Dr Victor Bolanos-Garcia

PhD. MSc, BSc, FHEA-UK

Senior Lecturer in Clinical Biochemistry

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

Victor Bolanos-Garcia

Role

Senior Lecturer and Principal Investigator. Leader of the research group "Mechanisms of Regulation of Cell Division". 

Teaching and supervision

Modules taught

Undergraduate Courses:

  • Introduction to Biochemistry A and B;
  • Biochemistry of Cell Function;
  • Evidence-based Medicine;
  • Clinical Biochemistry and Pharmacology;
  • 3rd year Research Project supervisor.

Postgraduate courses:

  • Advanced Molecular Techniques;
  • Genome Sciences;
  • Clinical Genetics and Diagnostics;
  • Advances in Medical Genetics.

Since 2012, I have been the Module Lead of the undergraduate courses Introduction to Biochemistry A and Introduction to Biochemistry A and B. Module lead of the postgraduate course Genome Sciences.

Supervision

Since I joined Oxford Brookes University I have acted as the first supervisor of 3 PhD students:

  • Natalie L. Curtis, 2017-2021;
  • Maria Kapanidou, 2013-2017;
  • Dave Gervais, 2014-2016.

As a second PhD supervisor:

  • Samuel Connelly, 2016-2020;
  • Teresa Minguez Vinas, 2016-2020;
  • Brittany Almond, 2014-2018.

I also supervise MSc students that choose to do their research projects in my group.

I have provided day to day co-supervision to a number of PhD students of the University of Cambridge and elsewhere. To name a few:

  • Qian Wu, 2009-2012, University of Cambridge;
  • Takashi Ochi, 2008-2012, University of Cambridge;
  • Deepti Gupta. 2008-2011, University of Cambridge;
  • Ann Ling, 2008-2011, University of Cambridge;
  • Lionel Chieze, 2007-2010, University of Rennes, France;
  • Sheena D'Arcy, 2006-2010, University of Cambridge.

Research

I am a biochemist, structural biologist and cancer researcher who trained with Francisco Bolívar-Zapata (the co-creator of the plasmid pBR322, one of the first widely used E. coli cloning vectors, and a member of the pioneer team at UCSF that for the first time overproduced human proteins such as insulin and somatostatin in bacteria using genetic engineering techniques) at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); Ermanno Gherardi at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB)-of the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Sir Tom Blundell at the University of Cambridge. As a Wellcome Trust International Research Fellow, I studied the mechanisms of regulation of cell proliferation and motility by the MET kinase receptor in collaboration with Gherardi and Blundell, which was followed by the study of cell signaling systems implicated in DNA damage and repair. The research experience acquired on the latter signalling systems prompted me to initiate work on the molecular mechanisms of regulation of cell division in higher organisms. Cell division is a critical biological event that is tightly regulated. In the human, defects in the process result in genome instability, birth and developmental defects, spontaneous miscarriage, cancer, and premature ageing. In essence, research in my group aims to understand how different signals in the cell work together to ensure accurate cell division. We are equally interested in the development of innovative therapeutics, ranging from small size compounds and peptides that bind to specific protein targets to nanomaterials than induce tumour cells sensitisation, in an attempt to tackle human malignancies associated with defects in cell division. To this aim we integrate protein biochemistry, protein biophysics and structure-guided drug development methods with medicinal chemistry, cellular biology and preclinical validation approaches.

Ultimately, understanding the dynamics and the structural features of the molecular interactions underpinning the control of cell division will open up new opportunities for improving the quality of life of an ever growing population and therefore contribute to reducing pressure on social and healthcare systems.

Research impact

Over the past two decades my group has accumulated an extensive body of work on the definition of the structure and function of key protein regulators of cell division. Also, using a structure-guided approach, we have identified and validated new drug targets to interfere with cell division in cancer cells. Highlights of recent contributions in this research area include:

  • the identification and pre-clinical validation of new specific ligands of key mitosis regulators to interfere with aberrant cell division in tumour cells (unpublished data);
  • development and validation of functionalised chitosan nanoparticles for the radiosensitisation of breast cancer cells (Biomolecules 2019);
  • in collaboration with the Elowe lab, we discovered a novel mechanism of regulation of the central mitotic checkpoint kinase Mps1, which has opened up a new widow for therapeutic intervention of cancer (Curr Biol 2018);
  • in collaboration with the Nilsson lab, we have identified and functionally characterised a new binding motif in the pseudokinase BubR1. The newly defined protein-protein interface has potential to be exploited to interfere with premature ageing (Trends Mol Medicine 2015 and Nature Comm 2014);
  • first description of the function and structure of the conserved N-terminal domain of the mitotic checkpoint kinases Bub1, BubR1 and Mps1 (Biochem J 2012; J Biol Chem 2010; Structure 2009).

We also have generated materials, methods, protocols and data that are used by other researchers around the world. A fraction of our research output has been used as a model case and/or primary citation in manuals and catalogues of well-established commercial suppliers of reagents and biological materials including GE Healthcare, New England Biolabs, Hampton Research, Bruker AXS, Molecular Dimensions, and Jena Bioscience.

Research in our group continues to provide a valuable opportunity for high-quality training and transference of a wide range of high-level skills to the new generation of researchers thus contributing in the long term to the competitiveness of these important bioscience industries in the UK.

Groups

Projects as Principal Investigator, or Lead Academic if project is led by another Institution

  • Inhibition of cell division to treat breast cancer of poor prognosis (27/09/2021 - 31/03/2022), funded by: Technology Strategy Board (Innovate UK), funding amount received by Brookes: £29,642

Publications

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Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

  • 2015-to date. Member of the Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre.
  • 2015-to date. Member of the Oxford Ageing Network (OxAgeN).
  • 2013-to date. Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) of the United Kingdom.
  • 2012-to date. Member of the Biochemical Society.
  • 2009-to date. Member of the Cambridge Cancer Centre.
  • 2000-to date. Member of the British Crystallographic Association (BCA), United Kingdom.

Conferences

I regularly attend and present research advances in ad hoc conferences on cell division control; cancer; drug discovery; protein biophysics and protein structural biology.

Consultancy

  • 2020 to date. Advisory Editorial Board Member. Subcellular Biochemistry (SCBI). Springer Nature. Heidelberg, Germany.
  • 2020-to date. International Evaluator. National Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT). Government of Mexico. Mexico.
  • 2019-to date. Editorial Board Member. Biomolecules. Basel, Switzerland.
  • 2019-to date. International Advisory Board Member. Imagine IF accelerator. Republic of Serbia. In this role I provide advise on R&D activities to new SMEs in Serbia, which then pitch for funding at an annual international event organised by The Innovation Forum and IF Imagine.

Further details

Mentoring Experience

I have provided management and mentoring support to many colleagues with less experience, which ultimately has contributed to their academic and personal development. One example of my strong commitment to support junior colleagues beyond my current organisation of adscription is my formal role as Postdoctoral Mentor for the Postdoc Academy, University of Cambridge.

Funding

Research funding from external sources. As a PI, Co-investigator, Named Investigator or Collaborator, I have been involved in rising over £15M from the UK Research Councils (MRC, BBSRC), charities (The Wellcome Trust, CRUK) and other organisations (Innovate UK; CNRS, France; CONACyT, Mexico; Fondazione Cariplo, Italy; Instituts de Recherche en Santé, Canada; The Spanish National Research Council, CSIC, Spain).

Further information