Ben Lewis is a PhD Student working jointly under the supervision of Ramon Vilar (Chemistry), Marina Kuimova (Chemistry) and Jean-Baptiste Vannier (MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences). He is a member of the EPSRC-funded Institute for Chemical Biology CDT.
Ben's research focuses on the G-Quadruplex, an alternative structure of DNA which is stable in the conditions found inside cells and which is believed may exist inside living human cells and play an important role in gene expression and cell maintenance.
Ben is developing a novel technique to image G-Quadruplex DNA inside live cells for the first time. This technique uses Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM) to observe molecules which fluoresce for different lengths of time depending on what type of DNA they are bound to. This technique overcomes the challenge of designing a molecule which binds very specifically to the rare G-Quadruplex structure and instead allows one to observe these Quadruplexes even amongst a large amount of other DNA. It is hoped that this technique will allow more to be understood about whether G-Quadruplexes exist inside living human cells and what roles they play.
Awards and Prizes
Ben won the Sir Alan Fersht prize for his performance in the MRes in Chemical Biology. He is also an enthusiastic science communicator and has won the Imperial College Graduate School Masters 3-60 competition in 2017 and the Royal Society of Chemistry Chemistry Communicators Challenge in 2018.