About Us | Staff

Our team of experienced and well trained staff have been making our reagents for many years. Now, you too can access these resources  to help you continue your research.


James Helps

Name: Dr C. James Hastie

Title: Manager, Division of Signal Transduction Therapy

Year Joined: 2001

I was born and educated in Dundee. In 1995 I obtained a first class honours degree in Biotechnology from the University of Abertay. I then obtained my PhD in 1999 from the University of Dundee under the supervision of Professor Tricia Cohen, where I discovered a new regulatory subunit for Protein Phosphatase 4. I then undertook a further two years of Postdoctoral Research at the University of Dundee working in research laboratories of Professor Tricia Cohen and Professor Mike Stark where I studied the function of protein phosphatases.

In 2001 I joined the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy, initially to purify protein phosphatases and protein kinases, but in late 2001 I moved to manage the Reagents and Service group along with Dr Hilary McLauchlan. Over the years we have built up a team of highly skilled and dedicated individuals, and it is the strength of our team that has made the DSTT the success that it is today.

Hilary McLauchlan

Name: Dr Hilary McLauchlan

Title: Manager, Division of Signal Transduction Therapy

Year Joined: 2000

A graduate of University of Dundee, following postdoctoral research I joined the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy in March 2000 initially as a member of the kinase profiling team but in late 2001 I moved to manage the reagents and services group along with James Hastie. Since 2001 the reagents and services have become increasingly busy undertaking varied protein expression and purification work, more custom expression and antibody purification work and expanding the protein kinase profiling to include lipid kinases. I am lucky enough to work with a great team of very talented individuals who despite the busy environment, varied demands and challenges that each day brings all use their individual strengths to pull together to make the division successful and a great environment in which to work.

Mark Peggie

Name: Mark Peggie

Title: Joint Head of MRC Cloning Group

Year Joined: 2001

I jointly manage the MRC Cloning Team and started working in the MRC PPU in 2001 after postdoctoral positions studying fungal genetics. The team has grown from 2 postdocs to 7 people since as demand has increased over the years. I studied for my Bsc and PhD degrees at the University of Aberdeen, and have gained an MBA from the University of Dundee. I originally come from Dunblane in Perthshire.

Rachel Toth

Name: Rachel Toth

Title: Joint Head of Molecular Cloning Group

Year Joined: 2002

I grew up in the rolling hills of Derbyshire. Following a degree in Biological Sciences at Durham, and a PhD in Molecular Virology at Warwick, I spent 3 months working in Zambia before moving to Dundee. I worked as a PostDoc researcher at the James Hutton Institute for 7 years before joining to MRCPPU in 2002. I currently jointly head the Molecular cloning team with Mark Peggie. My organised nature is ideally suited to the huge number of projects we need to be managing at any one time. I enjoy the mix of lab work and interaction with the researchers for whom we provide a vital service.

When I’m not in the lab I love playing squash, hillwalking and spending time with my family.



Reagents Cloning Team

Name: Thomas Macartney

Title: Molecular Biology Support Scientist

Year Joined: 2005

Originally from the west coast of Scotland, like most kids I was interested in science and this stayed with me throughout school and culminated in my gaining an honours degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow in 1997. My first position was with Lonza Biologics which was a challenging role working in the contract manufacture of human therapeutics, chiefly antibody production. I focussed on overhauling their proprietary antibody vectors and performed contract cloning for a wide variety of companies as well as heading the FISH program. I moved back to scotland in 2001 and worked as a molecular biologist with CXR Biosciences developing toxicological screens in cell-lines and mouse models, including the multi-mouse which reports on 5 different stress responses via unique biomarkers in the urine. I joined the unit in 2008 and have thoroughly enjoyed the shift in focus from money to research. I have improved my molecular skills further and am currently heading the CRISPR development within the unit which draws upon my background in transgenics.

When I'm not in the facility I can be found either doing DIY badly or fishing/camping in the wilds.

Reagents Cloning Team

Name: Simone Weidlich

Title: Molecular Biology Assistant

Year Joined: 2012

I was born in Dresden, Germany where I studied Biology. In 2003 I moved to Dundee and completed my PhD in Cancer Research the BRC in Ninewells Hospital before working as a Post-Doc there for 4 years. I joined the MRCPPU in 2012 and am part of the cloning team.

Reagents Cloning Team

Name: Nicola T Wood

Title: Molecular Biology Assistant

Year Joined: 2008

After gaining my PhD in Molecular Signalling from The University of Edinburgh in 1997, I worked for 10 years as a post-doctoral researcher, 6 years of which were in the MRC PPU studying roles of 14-3-3 proteins in disease signalling pathways. I joined the Cloning Team in 2008.



Reagents Production Team

Name: Shabana Anwar-Topping

Title: Protein production specialist

Year Joined: 2005

I am a graduate of Dundee University who is currently a member of the Insect Cell protein production group within the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy (DSTT).

My role mainly involves the expression of recombinant proteins using the insect cell system. Proteins expressed are purified using standard column chromatography techniques. These are then analysed using standard methods such as Bradford Assay and PAGE. These expressions are carried out on small scales, as tests, and large scales using specialised fermenter equipment. I am also responsible for insect cell cultures and maintaining cell lines throughout the routine production of these proteins.

My other areas of expertise are molecular biology (which I apply in cloning and bacmid preps), bacterial expression and purification and analysis of the recombinant proteins produced.

Reagents Production Team

Name: Carla Baillie

Title: Scientific Officer

Year Joined: 1999

I joined the DSTT in 1999 after completing my BSc (Hons) Biotechnology at the University of Abertay Dundee. I had spent time in Prof Carol MacKintosh's lab doing my honours project. Carol made me aware of a position coming up in DSTT and after 16 years I'm still here! I work as part of the production team, providing high quality reagents to UoD researchers and pharmaceutical companies. As a parent, any spare time I have is devoted to my son.

Reagents Production Team

Name: Fiona Brown

Title: Antibody Production Co-ordinator

Year Joined: 2005

I graduated with an honours degree in Biotechnology then continued my studies to graduate with a Master of Philosophy in Applied Bioscience. I am currently managing the antibody production group in DSTT-MRC-PPU where my role also involves maintaining stock levels and production schedules for the antibody. The areas of specialty include: purifying antibodies using affinity column chromatography and analysis of antibodies using Dot and Western Blotting techniques. My background and skill-set also includes Molecular Biology (cloning and bacmid preps.), plant and cell tissue culture, protein expression and purification using standard column chromatography techniques for (small and large scale) using recombinant E.coli and insect cells and protein analysis using standard techniques.

Reagents Production Team

Name: Mark Dorward

Title: Technician

Year Joined: 2009

I regularly use bacterial expression systems for recombinant protein expression. Prior to large-scale production, I routinely trial small scale expression studies and the results of these small scale studies allow me to determine the best expression conditions to be used to scale up and purify large quantities of expressed protein. Given the number and types of expressed proteins our facility normally handles, I use a variety of affinity tags to purify the target proteins to a very high purity. I perform a wide range of different purification strategies and techniques (including batch affinity purification and FPLC column chromatography) to achieve the highest purity possible based on the biochemical properties of the target proteins.

Reagents Production Team

Name: Ross Grant

Title: Lab Manager

Year Joined: 2004

I was born and raised in Dundee where I went to Morgan Academy high school. I am currently the Lab Manager for the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy. My duties and responsibilities are diverse and include ensuring that all the scientists have everything they need for their research to facilitate smooth running of the lab and ultimately production of research tools.

Reagents Production Team

Name: Clare Johnson

Title: Technician

Year Joined: 2011

I grew up in Fife and did an Honours degree in Biochemistry at the University of Glasgow. During my time there, I got a summer placement at Cyclacel, in their protein biochemistry laboratory. It was a brilliant place and I knew that Industry was right for me. Immediately after I graduated, I joined Upstate as a Purification Scientist in the new product development group and had the chance to work on a variety of protein purification projects for internal/external customers and gain valuable experience in assay development and kinase profiling.

After 6 years with the company, I joined the Protein Production and Assay Development team at the MRC PPU where I continue to purify proteins involved in signal transduction – the E1, E2 and E3 ubiquitin ligases - for the research groups within the Unit, using the insect and bacterial expression systems. It has been interesting to work alongside researchers and I have learned a lot from spending time in industry and academic settings. I like this job because protein purification is right in the middle of a process and is often the first point where you can tell if a project can continue, or if you have to go back to the drawing board.

When I’m not at work, I love spending time with my niece and nephew. I am a big fan of Andy Murray and enjoy watching tennis and I recently started learning Spanish, which I hope to be able to use in the future.

Reagents Production Team

Name: Axel Knebel

Title: Team leader Protein Production for Ubiquitin reagents

Year Joined: 2008

I was born and raised in Germany, studied Biology at the University of Cologne and completed the degree and a PhD at a major research center (FZK) near Karlsruhe, Germany.

During my PhD, I met Prof Sir Philip Cohen, who invited me to join his lab as a postdoc. Hence, from 1998 -2002, I carried out research at the MRC-PPU, initially as a long term EMBO fellow. In 2002 I set up and run Kinasource Ltd, to commercialise some of the innovations resulting from this Post doc position. In 2008 I was invited back into the MRC PPU in order to set up and run a protein production and assay development team for ubiquitin related reagents. Our team provides an impressive portfolio of ubiquitin related reagents and research experience and we enjoy being able to contribute to the research efforts. I am proud to be part of such a powerful and creative team and we do our best to provide reagents at a high quality in a timely manner.

Reagents Production Team

Name: Lesley Piper


Year Joined: 2006

Having Graduated from the University of Dundee I joined the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy in 2006. My current role within the Division is based within The E.coli Protein Expression Group. I am responsible for the production, and quality control of recombinant proteins utilizing E.Coli as the host cell. I run both small scale pilot expressions and large scale expressions applying affinity chromatography with the affinity tags GST, His and MBP. My additional skills include Antibody Protein Production and Mass Spectrometry.

Reagents Production Team

Name: Lorna Plater

Title: Assay Development Scientist

Year Joined: 2003

Originally from Scotland, I studied for a BSc (Hons) in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology at Napier University in Edinburgh. I joined the DSTT in 2003 with the primary role of developing and validating biochemical assays for protein targets of interest in specific disease areas. I enjoy the challenge of getting an assay to work, and helping to further drug development.

Reagents Production Team

Name: Samantha Raggett

Title: Insect Cell Expression Technician

Year Joined: 2004

I am originally from the South East of England. I graduated from University of Dundee in 1993 and 2006 with a BSc Honours and an MSc respectively. I have worked in DSTT for 11 years in Insect Cell Expression Group. In my spare time I enjoy going to Pole Dancing classes.

Do you need any help? Please get in touch and we’ll be happy to lend a hand.