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.
- Cell volume regulation
- Ion channel structure-function
- Tetrameric assembly of KvLm K+ channels with defined numbers of voltage sensors.
- Syeda R, Santos JS, Montal M, Bayley H Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2012 Oct 109 42 16917-22
- Piezo proteins are pore-forming subunits of mechanically activated channels.
- Coste B, Xiao B, Santos JS, Syeda R, Grandl J, Spencer KS, Kim SE, Schmidt M, Mathur J, Dubin AE, Montal M, Patapoutian A Nature 2012 Feb 483 7388 176-81
- Wrestling with native chemical ligation.
- Bayley H, Cheley S, Harrington L, Syeda R ACS Chem. Biol. 2009 Dec 4 12 983-5
- Droplet interface bilayers.
- Bayley H, Cronin B, Heron A, Holden MA, Hwang WL, Syeda R, Thompson J, Wallace M Mol Biosyst 2008 Dec 4 12 1191-208
- Screening blockers against a potassium channel with a droplet interface bilayer array.
- Syeda R, Holden MA, Hwang WL, Bayley H J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2008 Nov 130 46 15543-8
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)