Dr Vicki Gold

Dr Vicki Gold

Senior Lecturer in Biosciences, Living Systems Institute

‘I anticipate forming lots of new collaborations and learning about techniques different to my own.’


I undertook my PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Bristol, specifically researching the mechanism of protein translocation through the bacterial Sec system. I became a Postdoctoral Research Associate, investigating conformational dynamics in bacterial Sec-mediated protein translocation, and then moved to the Department of Structural Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics in 2011, to take up the role of Postdoctoral Fellow and Project leader in the field of research on mitochondrial protein import by cryoET.

Highlights of my career to date: 

Recent highlights of my career include identifying the sites of mitochondrial protein import in situ by electron cryo-tomography (Gold et al, Nat Commun, 2014), and determining the first structure of the type IV pilus assembly machinery (Gold et al, eLife, 2015). This work was made possible by the award of an EMBO Long-Term Fellowship (2011-2013) following on from the successful work carried out during my PhD on the biochemical characterisation of Sec-mediated protein transport in bacteria. I was also honoured to receive our departmental medal in 2014 for work on labelling the mitochondrial import machinery for electron cryo-tomography.

What excites me most about joining the LSI:

I am most looking forward to leading my own research group in a dynamic environment with lots of fantastic new ideas. Setting up our own cryoEM facility is also very exciting and I can't wait to see what kinds of new discoveries we can make in the future! 

Research work I will be undertaking in the LSI:

I will be continuing my work on protein transport across cell membranes. My research topics are broad, but will focus on two main areas: mitochondrial protein import and bacterial protein secretion. Despite the presence of mitochondrial DNA, 99% of mitochondrial proteins are nuclear encoded and imported from the cytosol. A growing number of human pathologies are associated with mitochondria and the import apparatus, thus it is essential that we understand how protein import is correctly orchestrated and regulated. The bacterial type IV pilus (T4P) machinery is responsible for the assembly of long surface appendages called pili, which power bacterial motility and allow cells to interact and adhere to surfaces. Some T4P machineries are also involved in DNA uptake, which is a growing concern as it can lead to rapid genetic adaptation and the build-up of drug resistance.  I will combine biochemistry with electron cryo-tomography and single-particle electron microscopy in order to investigate the structure and function of these two systems. 

Something about me that you can’t google! 

I'm originally from Devon and never actually thought that I could combine my career in electron cryomicroscopy with my passion for walking and letterboxing on Dartmoor- until now! I've also run a few half-marathons and enjoy skiing, horse riding, good food and wine.