School of Life Sciences
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Alan Huett

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences

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Biography

BSc (Microbiology, with intercalated year), University of Warwick (2000); Research Technician, PPL Therapeutics Ltd (1999); PhD, Imperial College, London (2004); Research Assistant, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (2004-5); Research Fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School (2005-2011).

Expertise Summary

I trained as a microbiologist and during my PhD studied the host-pathogen interface in the gut, using a model of Escherichia coli infection. For my post-doctoral training I moved to Boston, Massachusetts to gain experience in cell biology, high throughput screening, computation and genetics. During my time in the Xavier laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital I was able to bring my microbiology and cell biology / innate immunity interests together in the study of autophagy.

Autophagy is a crucial cellular process which serves to maintain cell viability under stress. During infections with invasive bacterial pathogens it also enables bacteria to be captured within specialised vacuoles and trafficked to the lysosomal compartment, where they are destroyed. I have been able to identify several molecules required for such anti-bacterial autophagy and currently am working to elucidate the signals used to target bacteria for autophagic destruction.

Much of my work employs high-content, high-thoughput screening approaches, automated image analysis tools and computation. Therefore I have a keen interest in novel labelling and imaging technologies.

Teaching Summary

I convene a 4th Year MSci module - Cutting Edge Techniques and Ideas in Molecular Biology. This module is designed to immerse students in the primary literature and provide them with the critical and… read more

Research Summary

I am interested in the role of autophagy in sensing and controlling bacterial infection. Many intracellular bacteria are targeted and destroyed by autophagy and we would like to know how the cell… read more

I convene a 4th Year MSci module - Cutting Edge Techniques and Ideas in Molecular Biology. This module is designed to immerse students in the primary literature and provide them with the critical and technical skills to read, summarise and present important papers and findings in modern molecular biology.

The Cutting Edge module runs for 12 weeks as a mixture of group and individual presentations, group exercises and individual coursework. In recent sessions we have covered topics ranging from; high-throughput sequencing, the microbiome, genome-wide association studies and disease, to genome engineering and transgenesis.

An emphasis is placed upon understanding the concepts behind technologies, their preferred applications and how to take advantage of such technology when designing new and exciting experiments. Assessment and feedback is provided throughout the module to encourage skill development and final assessment is by open-book examination.

Current Research

I am interested in the role of autophagy in sensing and controlling bacterial infection. Many intracellular bacteria are targeted and destroyed by autophagy and we would like to know how the cell senses their presence and the bacterial strategies for autophagy avoidance.

More broadly, I am studying the role of secreted bacterial effector proteins and their effects upon cell biology. I hope to gain new insights into bacterial pathogenesis and discover novel pathways by which bacteria manipulate host cell biology. Using high-throughput, high-content screening technologies we image and analyse hundreds of bacterial proteins in mammalian cells - selecting those producing alterations in cellular physiology. Such screening techniques allow us to analyse many bacterial proteins otherwise difficult to study due to lack of genetic or other tools.

School of Life Sciences

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham NG7 2UH

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