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Department of Biochemistry


Professor Ben Luisi Group Members


Principal Investigator:

001BenLuisi1 154x200px     

Prof Ben Luisi, USA shadow

01223 766029,


I obtained my PhD in Cambridge (MRC LMB);Working on protein expression, purification and X-ray data collection.  I am particularly interested in understanding how RNAs are recognised and acted upon for regulating gene expression in bacteria.

I am also interested in structural characterisation of large macro-molecular assemblies involved in RNA metabolism and transmembrane transport. 


Laboratory Manager:

001Michal Blaszczyk154x200px     

Dr Michal Blaszczyk, Poland shdw

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I joined Ben Luisi's lab in 2016 as laboratory manager for Luisi group. I graduated at Technical University of Lodz in Poland where I completed my PhD in Chemistry.

On a daily basis I take care of the lab and liaise with other units within the University as well as outside it.

Outside of the lab I am interested in an inch figurine painting, guitar playing and travel


Research Associates:


Dr Xue Yuan Pei, TheWorld 50x34px

01223 766020,


I joined the BL group in 2005. 

I obtained my PhD in protein crystallography from CPE, LMB, MRC, U.K.

Since I joined the BL group, I have worked on a range of protein /RNA crystal structures. I am interested in structural biology




Dr Kasia Bandyra, Poland shdw

01223 766020,


After completing my Masters in Molecular Biology at the University of Warsaw I joined the Luisi group in 2009 to do my PhD, and stayed as postdoc after finishing with my dissertation in 2013.

I am interested in activity and specificity of RNase E, the major bacterial endoribonuclease, and its involvement in small, non-coding RNA regulation in E. coli and Salmonella.




Dr Andrzej Szewczak-Harris, Poland shdw

01223 333654,


After studies in Poznan and Göttingen, I worked in Jan Löwe's group at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. I obtained a PhD in 2015 and continued working as a post-doc with Jan, focussing on electron cryo-microscopy of the bacterial cytoskeleton.

I came to Ben Luisi's group in December 2018. My work here is centered on cryo-EM and structural biology of bacterial efflux pumps.




Dr Md. Saiful Islam, Bangladesh shdw 55x33px

01223 766020,


Originally I am from Bangladesh and completed a Bachelor in Pharmacy (B.Pharm) followed by a Master degree (M.Pharm) in Pharmaceutical Technology at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. In October, 2013, I started working with Professor Chris J. Schofield at the Chemistry Research Laboratory, University of Oxford to pursue my D.Phil. program, which focused on structural and functional characterisation of human oxygenases.

In September, 2017, I joined the group of Professor Ben F. Luisi as a research associate to work on the RNase E degradosome machinery. My research interest is to capture the whole degradosome assembly within the in vivo/native condition by using the electron microscopy.




Dr Kotryna Bloznelyte, Lithuania shdw 55x33px

01223 766029,


I joined the lab in 2018, following my interest in structural biology and regulation of gene expression. Previously, I did undergraduate Biochemistry at Churchill College, Cambridge and PhD at Imperial College, London, where I used single molecule fluorescence imaging to study the mechanisms of mammalian genome organisation in the nucleus.
Outside the lab, I enjoy running and baking, and aspire to learn coding.




Dr Miao Ma, China shdw 55x37px

01223 333654,


After obtaining my master's degree in China, I completed my PhD at Université Paris-Sud XI 

in Prof. Herman van Tilbeurgh’s group, where I used X-ray crystallography combining other biochemical and biophysical approaches to study the structure of tRNase Z and its interactome from S. cerevisiae.

I joined the Luisi lab in January 2018 to work on the membrane transporters from Mycobacteria, aiming to elucidate the molecular mechanism of drug resistances by cryo-EM and crystallography which will contribute to treatment of tuberculosis.

Outside the lab, I enjoy yoga, dancing and skiing.




Dr Heather Bruce, UK shdw 55x27px

01223 333654,


 I completed my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of York. During my final year project - which I thoroughly enjoyed in YSBL - I discovered my passion for structural biology.My PhD focused on the structural and biophysical characterisation of a natively unstructured region in the E. coli RNA degradosome, under the excellent supervision of Professor Ben Luisi in the Department of Biochemistry, here in Cambridge.

I am honoured to return to the group as a Postdoctoral researcher working on cryo electron microscopy studies of a bacterial small regulatory RNA involved in virulence, bound to one of its target mRNAs and the RNA chaperone protein Hfq.

Currently, my hobbies include drawing and reading.


PhD Students:


Ms Laura Shen, Canada shdw

01223 333654,


Laura joined the lab in October of 2015 after finishing her undergraduate education at McGill university. She is working on elucidating the structure and functions of RhlB in cooperation with the RNA degradosome in hopes of understanding its RNA binding and selection process. Laura enjoys molecular and structural biochemistry, specifically large molecular complexes, hence her current project trajectory.





Mr Tom Dendooven, Belgium shdw

01223 766020,


I am a first-year PhD student who joined the Luisi group in October 2016. Previously I obtained a master’s degree in genetics from KULeuven, Belgium. During my master thesis, I was working on a bacteriophage encoded inhibitor of the P. aeruginosa RNA degradosome in the Lab of Gene Technology (KULeuven) and the Luisi group (University of Cambridge). Currently I am trying to elucidate the structure and working mechanism of the E. coli RNA degradosome with Cryo‑Electron Microscopy techniques (cryo-EM). In my spare time, I like to practice judo at the University Judo club, play the drums and listen to jazz music.





Mr Tai Yang, USA shadow

01223 766029,


I did my BS at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, by studying the effects of enzyme mass on molecular motions of the hepatitis D ribozyme. I then joined the Luisi Lab in April 2015 for an MPhil by examining the structure of the RNA degradosome. Currently I am pursuing a PhD by utilizing cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) and light microscopy (TIRF) in order to elucidate both the structural and biophysical properties of the RNA degradosome on membrane. In my free time I like playing basketball, attempting photography, and enjoying the outdoors (when it isn’t pouring).




 Ms Giulia Paris,

Italy shdw 55x30px

Visiting Student,