Dr Claire Weekly
Research Fellow, Department of Biochemistry & Pharmacology and the Bio21 Institute
What does your research focus on and why is it important?
I study proteins, which are the molecules that perform all the work in our bodies. Sometimes proteins don’t work very well or they go haywire, which causes or contributes to diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Viruses and bacteria also use proteins to invade our cells and make us sick. By studying the structure of proteins in 3D, we can understand how they work, how they cause disease and start to look for drugs that might stop proteins from behaving badly and therefore prevent or treat illness.
One of the projects I work on involves COVID. If we can find a drug that jams up the COVID Spike protein, we could stop the virus from getting into our cells where it makes us sick.
Did you have a part-time job whilst at school/studying?
I worked at Target for 5 years during high school and university, stocking and selling things from CDs to cameras to Pokemon cards. While it wasn’t a scientific job, I learned a lot about working and interacting with lots of different people.
What did you learn from your biggest mistake?
It’s easy to make mistakes in the lab. Often it’s because we’re in a hurry, trying to do too many things at once, not reading the instructions properly or not paying attention! Reflecting on why you made a mistake, learning from it, and taking the time to read and prepare before you start a task – big or small, new or familiar – helps to set you up for success.