Professor Daniela Rhodes FRS
Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Singapore
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Director of Nanyang Institute of Structural Biology, Singapore
Living Systems Institute Honorary Professor
‘There is no reason not to do the best possible work; to hire the best minds, provide funding and let them do what they want. History shows that this model is the best way to achieve excellence in science.’
Before joining Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore in September 2011, I spent my whole research career at the world-renowned MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. After studying for a PhD with Nobel Prize winner Aaron Klug, I obtained a Research Scientist Position in 1983, followed by tenure in 1987 and Special Appointment in 1994 (equivalent to Full Professor), and served as Director of Studies at from 2006 – 2009. In NTU I am the Director of the newly funded NTU Institute of Structural Biology.
Among my other activities, I chaired the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Fellowship Committee (2000 – 2006) and was chair of EMBO Council (2010 – 2012). I also chaired the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grants LS1 Committee (2010-2016). I have been a visiting professor at both the Rockefeller University in New York, USA, and La Sapienza in Rome, Italy, and also chair the External Advisory Committee of both the Centro de Investigaciones Biologicas in Madrid, Spain and the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Institute in Napels, Italy.
I was elected FRS in 2007, EMBO Member in 1996 and to the Academia Europaea in 2011.
My research work:
During my long career, I have made many contributions to understanding the structure and function of nucleic acids and their biologically important interactions with several different proteins. My group determined the three-dimensional structure of protein-DNA complexes involved in transcription, such as zinc-fingers and nuclear hormone receptor, and also provided some of the first structural information on telomeric proteins, such as yeast Rap1p and human TRF1 and TRF2 and their complexes with DNA. Also my group has contributed substantially to the understanding of chromatin structure and function – I was involved in determining the structure of the nucleosome core particle and worked on transcriptionally active chromatin and on the higher order structure of chromatin, the “30nm” fibre.
Presently, the research of my group is focussing on determining the structure and function telomeres and telomerase and how “chromatin remodellers” recognize nucleosomes to program chromatin function. In the area of telomere biology, we are focussing on obtaining the high resolution structure of human telomerase as well as investigating telomerase recruitment to telomeres. Such knowledge is needed to progress in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of cancer propagation and human ageing.