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.
You can hear Ben speaking about his research on the Naked Genetics podcast here.
Awards and Prizes
- Sir Alan Fersht prize for best performance in the MRes in Chemical Biology, 2016-17
- 1st place, Imperial College Graduate School Masters 3-60 presentation competition 2017
- Winner (Individuals Category), Royal Society of Chemistry Chemistry Communicators Challenge 2018
- 1st prize (Imaging, Sensing and Analytical Sciences Theme), Chemistry Postgraduate Symposium 2020
- Royal Society of Chemistry Chemical Biology and Bioorganic Group Postgraduate Symposium Oral Presentation Prize 2020
- Best Talk, Imperial College Faculty of Natural Sciences Research Showcase 2020
- Overall Best Presentation, Royal Society of Chemistry Chemistry Communicators Challenge 2020
- Gold Award for Chemistry, STEM for Britain 2021
et al., 2021, Assessing the key photophysical properties of triangulenium dyes for DNA binding by alteration of the fluorescent core, Chemistry - A European Journal, Vol:27, ISSN:0947-6539, Pages:2523-2536
et al., 2021, Visualising G-quadruplex DNA dynamics in live cells by fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy, Nature Communications, Vol:12, ISSN:2041-1723
et al., 2018, Detecting RNA base methylations in single cells by in situ hybridization, Nature Communications, Vol:9, ISSN:2041-1723