(Dear former lab members - this is very much a work in progress. If you would like to appear here, please send a picture plus a couple of lines and links)



Ramón Hurtado Guerrero

I was a postdoctoral researcher at Prof. van Aalten´s laboratory from 2005 to 2009. I worked in the biophysical characterization and elucidation of several crystal structures of glycosyl hydrolases, glycosyltransferases and enzymes involved in the synthesis of UDP-GlcNAc. During this time I mainly gained interests on how glycosyltransferases modifying proteins achieve recognition and catalysis on protein substrates.  Examples of this work involve the enzymes OGT and Legionella pneumophila glucosyltransfera

Then, I moved to my current position as ARAID researcher at University of Zaragoza, where I decided to go on working with glycosyltransferases and in particular focused in the exciting field of Protein O-fucosilation and Protein O-GalNAcylation. My major achievements as Independent Investigator illustrate how POFUT2 in collaboration with networks of water molecules achieve multiple-substrates recognition or how the lectin and catalytic domains of GalNAc-Ts are coupled to perform glycosylation on glycopeptides.

Elton Zeqiraj

Elton was a PhD student from 2005 to 2009. During his time in Dundee, Elton focused on the structural biology of the LKB1 tumour suppressor complex and provided the first snapshot of a pseudokinase—kinase pair in action. 

After leaving the DVA lab, Elton went on to do postdoctoral work in the lab of Dr. Frank Sicheri at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, supported by an HFSP Long Term Fellowship and a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship. In 2016, Elton started up his lab at the University of Leeds to study ubiquitin signalling. His current research is funded by a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust and The Royal Society and a University Academic Fellowship from the University of Leeds. Lab website:     

Helge Dorfmueller

Helge was a PhD student (2006-2010) and postdoctoral Sir Henry Dale Fellow in the laboratory (2010-2013). During this time he worked on mechanistic and structural insights into the O-GlcNAc hydrolase and transferase, as well as on chitin biosynthesis. Furthermore, Helge was involved with the design, development and characterisation of cell-penetrant, selective and potent transition-state inhibitors of the human O-GlcNAcase. Helge also developed and established novel enzyme assays of glycosyltransferases and screened for novel inhibitors targeting these important enzyme classes. Examples of his work are highlighted in References 88, 107, 116 and 146.

Helge moved with his Sir Henry Dale Fellowship to the laboratory of Prof So Iwata and Dr Konstantinos Beis in 2013. In 2015, Helge was recruited as an Independent Investigator in the Division of Molecular Microbiology ( In April 2016, Helge became a Royal Society and Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellow. As principal investogator, Helge and his lab study carbohydrate active enzymes involved in the nucleotide sugar and cell wall biogenesis in Streptococci (

Francesco (Frank) Rao

Francesco (Frank) joined the the DVA lab in 2002 as a Masters student. During this time Frank worked on enzymes involved in carbohydrate synthesis and degradation and helped establish the molecular biology and enzymology capabilities in the lab. Frank stayed with the lab as an Industrial CASE (Syngenta) PhD student (2003-2006) investigating the structure and function of a number of glycosidases including initial studies into the mechanism and inhibition of eukaryotic O-GlcNAc hydrolysis. Examples of Frank’s work can be found in references 49, 55, 68, 74, 80, 84, 123, 132.

Supported by an EMBO Long Term Fellowship and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Science Fellowship, Frank left Scotland to work in the lab of Prof. Stephen Withers and Prof. Natalie Strynadka at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. In 2010, Frank returned back to Scotland with a Marie Curie International Reintegration grant and a FEBS Return-to-Europe Fellowship. Examples of Frank’s work during this time can be found in references 138 and 142.

In 2012, Frank joined a DVA lab spin-out (GlycoBioChem Ltd) as the managing director ( In 2013, Frank was recruited as the CSO of DC Biosciences Ltd, a contract research organisation (CRO) specialising in quantitative proteomics ( 


Adam Ostrowski

I was a post-doc in the group of Prof. Daan van Aalten between 2013 and 2014 when I was studying hypothetical protein O-GlcNAcylation in a thermophilic bacterium Thermobaculum terrenum (published in JBC). After my time with in the DvA lab I moved to the group of Dr Sarah Coulthurst at the University of Dundee to study bacterial cell-cell competition by Type VI Secretion System. Currently I work in a biotechnology company APS Biocontrol Ltd where I develop bacteriophage-based approaches for crop protection and produce preservation.


  Ritchie Williamson

I joined the DVA lab in September 2011 to work on neuronal protein O-GlcNAcylation. Prior to going the DVA lab my research area centred on understanding molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Building on past research experience I worked on a number of projects investigation protein O-GlcNAcylation in ageing and Alzheimer’s disease as well as investigating the potential of OGA inhibitors as novel therapeutics for neurodegeneration. As part of this, I also worked on developing the O-GlcNAcase mutant as a substrate trap for enriching O-GlcNAcylated proteins. In 2013 I moved to the University of Bradford to take up the position of Lecturer in Therapeutics in the School of Pharmacy and Medicals Sciences. Research in my  lab continues to focus on molecular mechanisms underlying Alzheimer’s and motor neuron diseases

Alexander Striebeck

As a PhD student in Daan’s lab, I was working on the characterisation of a glycosyltransferase complex involved in the formation of the mannan layer of the fungal cell wall. The work included recombinant gene expression, X-ray crystallography and enzyme assays.

Afterwards I became a post-doc at the Carlsberg Research Laboratory (CRL, Copenhagen, Denmark) where I studied enzymes involved in the synthesis and degradation of starch in barley. Since 2016 I am a Scientist at CRL working on an accelerated project.

Riccardo Trapannone

I was a Wellcome Trust PhD student in the DVA laboratory between 2013 and 2016. My project was focused on the role the mitochondrial O-GlcNAc transferase isoform (mOGT) and its contribution to the generation of the mitochondrial O-GlcNAc proteome. I was also involved in a collaborative project aimed at designing and testing a novel OGT inhibitor. I'm currently working as a postdoc at the Max Perutz Laboratories (Vienna) where I am studying the molecular mechanisms of autophagy in stem cells.

Helen Woodroof

I first joined the DVA lab in 2009 as a summer student studying an enzyme involved in biofilm synthesis in E. coli, and continued this work for my final year Honours project. I then rejoined the lab in 2010 as a PhD student jointly supervised by Daan, Miratul Muqit and Dario Alessi. I established the first in vitro enzyme assay for the Parkinson's disease-associated protein kinase PINK1, and begun the initial work on the structural characterisation of this enzyme. I now work as a medical writer in Glasgow.

Ole Andersen

I was a Post-Doc in Professor Daan van Aalten’s lab in the period from 2004 to 2007. My work included expression, purification, crystallisation, structure solution and analysis, and biochemical assays on chitinases from human pathogens as well as for human acidic chitinase. I have since worked in the protein crystallography group at Evotec (U.K.) Ltd (

Dr. Deborah E. A. Lockhart, BSc(DentSci) BDS(Hons) MFDS RCSEd FRCPath PhD

MRC Clinical Research Fellow (2011 to 2014)

As a clinician, Deborah was so frustrated by the difficulties in diagnosing and managing patients with life-threatening fungal infections, she took time out of her Specialist training in microbiology to pursue a PhD in Daan van Aalten’s group investigating novel cell wall antifungal targets in Aspergillus fumigatus supported by a prestigious MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship.

During her time in the lab Deborah was awarded a European Confederation for Medical Mycology Young Investigator Award (2013) and was shortlisted for the Sir Howard Dalton Young Microbiologist of the Year (2014). She was also successful in obtaining another highly competitive Fellowship to enable her to consolidate her skills, explore new areas and lay the foundations for establishing her own group in the new MRC Centre for Medical Mycology at the University of Aberdeen, UK. See

Although primarily based at the University of Aberdeen where she is currently a Wellcome Trust Clinical Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Honorary Consultant Microbiologist, Deborah retains a close affiliation with the Cell Wall theme of the group.

Michaela Fenckova

I joined the lab in July 2016. Combining the insights of Daan's lab in molecular functioning of OGT and my expertise in modeling of human cognitive disorders in Drosophila, I investigated the underlying mechanisms of recently discovered mutations in OGT causing Intellectual Disability. My major goal was the translation of my own findings in Drosophila to the benefit of the human patients, in a from of improved diagnostics, or treatment strategies. In my future research I want to focus on establishment of complementary cognitive outcome measures between Drosophila and humans and use Drosophila as an efficient platform for investigating of treatment targets and testing of novel drugs.  

Wenxia Fang 

During my PhD I worked on functional analysis of glycosylation enzymes in opportunistic pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. In December 2009, I obtained my PhD from institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Then in March 2010 I moved to Dundee as a PDRA in DvA lab to establish fungal genetics system. Being in a “big” but friendly lab with broad research interests I have also learned crystallography, structural biology and fragment-based small molecule screening. Now I am pursuing a career as a PI in China. 

Jana Alonso Lorenzo - University of Oxford

Shalini Pathak - (PD with Prof. Doreen Cantrell) University of Dundee
Helen Attrill - University of Cambridge
Ole Andersen - Evotec
Jon Urch - University of Dundee
Edmond Wong - Adaptimmune
Marta Garrido-Franco - Boehringer Ingelheim  
Osama Albarbarawi
Swati Arya
Kelly Sanders
David Blair (former PhD student)
Alexandra Lo
Lindsey Gray
Laurie Gay
Alexander Schüttelkopf (former PhD student)
Marianne Schimpl (former PhD student) - AstraZeneca (Cambridge, UK)
Michaela Fenckova

PhD students
David Kommander - PI, University of Cambridge
Elton Zeqiraj - PD fellow, Sir Henry Dale Fellowship, University of Leeds
Tony Zheng - PD fellow, MRC Molecular Haematology Unit, University of Oxford
Nithya Selvan - PD fellow, Complex Carbohydrate Research centre, Univeristy of Georgia (US)
Christina Rush
Douglas Houston - University of Edinburgh
Fabrizio Villa - PD with Prof. Karim Labib, University of Dundee
Cristine Milburn - University of Dundee

Master's students
Susann Krüger
Kristina Kozusko
Andrew Clark - Davies Collison Cave IP
Vincent Rao - University of Newcastle

Undergraduate students

Stewart Morton
Louise Thom
Satoko Orihashi
Michal Zielinski

Research technicians

George Penman
Sharon Shepard - University of Dundee
Duncan McNulty