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Joanna Whittaker

HFSP Cross-Disciplinary Postdoctoral Fellow

Throughout my career in academia, I have honed my experience and knowledge in various fields of organic chemistry. Within my bachelor’s degree at the University of Warsaw (Poland), I performed microwave-assisted syntheses using microwave reactors adhering to green chemistry principles. During my master studies, I acquired in-depth practical experience in stereochemistry around enantioselective and organocatalytic reactions. I obtained three Erasmus+ scholarships allowing me to twice attend the University of Parma (Italy), where I synthesised various supramolecular assemblies. My third Erasmus scholarship was at Åbo Akademi University (Finland), where I synthesised biologically-active molecules. In 2020, I completed my PhD studies within the MSCA-ITN grant and MMBio network at the University of Padua (Italy). It allowed me to develop my skills in nanotechnology, organic, supramolecular and physical chemistry, as I was designing, synthesising and studying artificial enzymes (nanozymes) which could selectively cleave nucleic acids.

My first postdoctoral position at Aston University (UK) introduced me to important drug design components of medicinal chemistry with closely-linked academia-industry collaborations, as I designed and synthesised irreversible inhibitors of tissue transglutaminase (TG2). In 2021, I was employed as a Senior Scientist at a small pharmaceutical company TBCertain (the Netherlands), where I optimised the synthesis and up-scaling of complex mycolic acid homologues that can diagnose tuberculosis at an early stage.

I am now excited to begin working on a new frontier of science with Dr. Tych’s and Prof. Maglia’s groups as a HFSPO Postdoctoral Cross-Disciplinary Fellow. My project will be focused on studying the function of the proteasome using two complementary approaches: PROTAC technology and electrophysiological measurements.

It is almost impossible for me to be bored. I have various hobbies and ways of spending my spare time, starting with boxing, dancing, running and watching F1 with my husband, followed by cooking, knitting, learning new languages and playing board games with my family and friends. If I wasn’t a chemist, I’d be either the biggest rival of Gordon Ramsay leading the best Michelin Star restaurant in the world or I’d be the winner of the first edition of British Bake Off. No joke.

Joanna Whittaker
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