Principal investigator

Prof. Daan van Aalten, FRSE

I gained a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, followed by a PhD in Biochemistry/Biocomputing at the University of Leeds. After postdoctoral work in protein crystallography at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, on an EMBO Long Term Fellowship, and the University of Oulu, Finland, I established my group at the University of Dundee with the help of a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship, with a research focus in the area of molecular & cellular glycobiology. Key awards: EMBO Young Investigator Award (2002), Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowships (2004 and 2009), the Lister Prize (2006), Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2010) and Wellcome Investigator (2015). I have a personal chair in biological chemistry as of 2006, and am author on over 160 scientific papers. My long term interests are the molecular basis of biogenesis of the fungal cell wall, and the role of O-GlcNAc in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. For a good idea of what I like doing in my spare time, see here

Postdoctoral researchers

Villo Muha


I am interested in the intricate networks and molecular mechanisms that orchestrate eukaryotic life. I graduated with B.Sc in Biology and M.Sc in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (2006, Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest) and obtained my PhD in Molecular Cell Biology for investigating DNA repair mechanism and dUTP metabolism in Drosophila (2010, Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest). Afterwards, I joined the Muller lab (Division of Cell and Developmental Biology, SLS, Dundee) where I developed a strong toolset in Drosophila genetics and imaging. From February 2014, I have been a PDRA in Daan van Aalten‘s group, where my research focuses on the biological role of protein O-GlcNAcylation using Drosophila and transgenic mouse model systems.

Sergio Galan Bartual

Since the completion of my PhD I have developed a strong idea of what I wanted in my scientific future and career: reveal novel strategies to deal with human bacterial disease. During my PhD I acquired a solid background on pathogenic bacterial population genetics and novel typing strategies. 
Searching for novel strategies in the combat against multidrug resistant bacteria I switch my interest on protein structures. As a result, I joined the group of Dr Van Raaij to learn X-Ray Crystallography of macromolecules. Nowadays, with the support of the Marie Curie fellowship I have started in DVA lab, Dundee a new research line to understand at functional and structural level the molecular mechanism of a new family of glycosyltransferases.

Mathew Stanley

Broadly, I am interested in the application of chemical approaches towards the study of biological systems for therapeutic benefit. A chemist by training, I obtained my PhD in synthetic carbohydrate chemistry (2011, Streicher Lab, University of Sussex) developing chemical tools and diagnostics for the study of influenza virus infection and sialic acid processing enzymes. Subsequently, I held a PDRA position within the MRC PPU (2011-2016, Virdee lab, University of Dundee) where I developed and applied novel chemical biology approaches for studying the ubiquitin system. My research within the DvA lab involves the discovery, design and optimisation of small molecules targeting the sugar processing machinery of the fungal cell wall as a route towards novel anti-fungal drug therapies.

Olawale Raimi

A Nigerian, Studied Biochemistry at the Lagos State University Lagos Nigeria, MSc Biochemistry at the University of Lagos and a Phd at the University of Dundee, UK. My project is focused on finding a potential inhibitor for enzymes directly /indirectly involved in fungi Cell wall synthesis using fragment-based drug discovery (FBDD) approach

Vladimir Borodkin

I am a synthetic chemist working on the development of novel OGT and OGA inhibitors as wells as synthesizing various probes and peptides to study O-GlcNAcylation.

Daniel Mariyappa

My doctoral research on mammalian gamete biology was completed at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. Wanting to look at signalling mechanisms operative during embryonic development, I moved to Dr. Arno Mueller’s laboratory at University of Dundee for my first postdoctoral position trying to understand how mesodermal cells migrate in the Drosophila embryo. Subsequently, I joined Prof. Daan van Aalten and am exploring the role of O-GlcNAc in Drosophila development.

Chuan Fu

My name is Chuan and I am older than in the picture.

Scientific officer

Andrew Ferenbach

I’m originally from Edinburgh, schooled there, did my Undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology there. After spending a year’s working holiday in Australia I decided to apply to the 4-year Wellcome Trust PhD programme in Dundee. After graduating with a PhD in Biochemistry (DNA replication licensing) I spent 1 year as a PostDoc working on Colon Cancer in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee. I then worked for 18 months for Millipore in new product development (basically many custom clonings) before joining Daan’s group in 2009. I have provided custom cloning services since then and since January 2015 I also design and diagnose mutants generated using CRISPR/Cas9.

PhD students

Andrii Gorelik

I got my Bachelor's degree in Industrial Biotechnology from Kyiv Polytechnic Institute (Kyiv, Ukraine). Having worked on carbohydrate active enzymes during two summer internships at the John Innes Centre (Norwich, UK), I decided to continue work in the field of glycobiology and joined Daan's lab in 2015 as a PhD student funded by the Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD programme. My project is about developing tools to study O-GlcNAc on individual proteins.

Mehmet Gundogdu

I joined the van Aalten lab as a PhD student in September 2013. My interests lie in the unusual cytoplasmic glycosylation machineries, including O-GlcNAc cycling enzymes OGT and OGA. My main project focuses on characterisation of recently identified OGT disease mutants. To that end, I use enzymology, protein crystallography, cell biology and fly genetics. Before joining van Aalten lab, I obtained my BSc in Biochemistry (Hons) from the University of Dundee.

Karim Rafie

I studied at the TU Dortmund University/Germany receiving both my Bachelor’s (2010) and Master’s (2013) degree in Chemical Biology. I joined the lab as an exchange student in 2012 to work on my Master’s thesis project for up to a year before joining the lab as a PhD student in October of 2013. From the beginning, I was interested in understanding the mechanism by which OGT, a conserved eukaryotic nucleocytoplasmic glycosyltransferase, modifies its substrates and what role its activity plays in development. One of my projects is focused on designing / identifying a potent and selective OGT inhibitor to probe OGT activity in physiological systems. In my second project, I utilise biochemical and structural methods to identify and characterise the binding modes by which OGT recognises its substrates.

David Wei

My name is Wenfan (David) Wei. I got my undergraduate degree in Bioengineering from Anhui Polytechnic University in 2010. After that, i joined Prof. Ling Lu's lab in Nanjing Normal University for my master degree to study fungal genetics. In September 2013, i came to join Daan's lab for a four years program funded by Chinese Scholarship Council. My project is focusing on targeting the Rho1 GTPase signalling pathway in the pathogenic pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. In my spare time, i enjoy playing basketball and driving my car all across the beautiful Scotland.

Yuanwei Zhang

I obtained my bachelor degree in 2011 from Anhui Normal University, then I studied in Prof. Ling Lu’s lab at Nanjing Normal University (2011-2015) to investigate the relationship between palmitoylation and calcium signalling in Aspergillus nidulans. In Aug 2015, I joined Daan’s lab as a Joint PhD student sponsored by China Scholarship Council. My current project focused on is identifying potential fungal cell wall targets of the opportunistic pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus by using genetic and structural biology techniques.

Xiping Chen

My name is Xiping Chen from the centre of China. My previous work during my master session was about the biosynthesis of quorum sensing signals of the phytopathogen Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris. And I joined Daan's lab in this October (2016) to study the development of inhibitors targeting cell wall biosynthesis of human fungal pathogen Candida albicans. I  like to do sports (e.g. badminton and swimming) with my friends during my spare time and that would fresh me from my daily work. Travelling and music can bring me a lot of fun too.

Kaizhou Yan

My research interest lies in protein, from proteomics to three-dimensional structure of protein. As an undergraduate student in Hunan Agricultural University, I studied bacterial amylase zymogram and protein against Aspergillus flavus. As a master student in Guangxi University, I studied bacterial fibrinolytic enzymes, which includes enzyme fermentation, heterologous expression, zymography, purification and MALDI-TOF identification. I join DVA’s group in 2016. My current research is to target phosphomutases in Candida albicans using structure biology and Fragment-Based Drug Discovery