Dr. Syeda’s long-term research interests focus on the physiological and pathophysiological implications of ion channel gating and modulation with respect to health and disease. She has received rigorous training in the fields of chemical biology, neurobiology and biophysics.

Membrane biology and ion channels first came to her attention during undergraduate studies at Karachi University, where she earned a BSc in Chemistry and an MSc in Physical Chemistry. Due to the fundamental role that ion channels play in health and disease, Dr. Syeda found them to be captivating and promising research opportunities. She then earned her Ph.D. under the mentorship of Prof. Hagan Bayley at the University of Oxford focusing on Chemical Biology. As a Clarendon Scholar graduate student, she worked on a novel technique called droplet lipid bilayers and refined the technique to produce membrane proteins by cell-free in vitro transcription and translation inside the nanoliter droplets. This research led to important applications of the system, as demonstrated by the rapid screening of blockers and modulators against a viral potassium channel. Due to the success of the project, she earned the Eli Lilly Award for outstanding postgraduate research studies.

As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Mauricio Montal, she brought the droplet-bilayer system to UC San Diego and further developed the technique in order to address how neuronal proteins sense voltage across the cell membrane. She studied the effect of gating modifiers such as lipid monolayer composition, anti-depressants, neurotoxins, and anti-epileptics on voltage gated potassium channels.

As a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Ardem Patapoutian, her research focused on the gating of the mechanosensory cation channel Piezo and the volume-regulated anion-channel Swell1. Piezo channels respond to perturbations in membrane tension, while Swell proteins are regulated by change in cell volume. The team has reported the major advancements in peer-reviewed publications, validating the power and accessibility of the droplet bilayer technique to understand ion channel mechanism.

Research Interest

  • Cell volume regulation
  • Channelopathies
  • Electrophysiology
  • Ion channel structure-function
  • Mechanosensors


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Honors & Awards

  • The Welch Foundation
    Research Grant (2018-2021)
  • American Heart Association
    Scientist Development Grant (2017-2019)
  • Eli Lilly Award
    Outstanding Postgraduate Student (2008)
  • Lincoln College Senior Scholar
    University of Oxford (2008-2010)
  • Clarendon Scholarship
    Fully funded D.Phil program (2007-2010)
  • Lady Noon Foundation Award
    To Pursue D.Phil in Chemical Biology (2007-2010)