Professor Helen Saibil

Helen Saibil was educated in biophysics at McGill University, Montreal and then at Kings College London, where she did her PhD on the structure of retinal photoreceptor membranes. She continued to work on photoreceptors at Kings College and at the Centre d’Etudes Nucleaires, Grenoble, and then at Oxford University. After moving to her current position at Birkbeck College, she moved into the field of molecular chaperones and protein misfolding into amyloid fibrils. Her main interests are in analyzing conformational changes in macromolecular machines, using cryo-electron microscopy and image processing. Her cryo-EM analysis of the structure and movements of the E. coli chaperonin elucidated the allosteric mechanism of this protein folding machine.  Another major interest is in studies of the conformational changes in membrane pore formation by bacterial toxins and by pore forming proteins of the immune system. Current work also includes electron tomography studies of host interactions with intracellular pathogens.