My name is Dr. Rachel Harding. I studied at Oxford University for both my undergraduate degree, Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, as well as my graduate degree, DPhil Pathology. During my DPhil in the lab of Professor Susan Lea, I learnt much about recombinant protein expression, purification, biophysical methods and structural biology under her supervision.

I am continuing to develop these skills in my current position as a postdoctoral fellow at the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), University of Toronto, working for Dr Cheryl Arrowsmith. The SGC philosophy is to accelerate research into understudied aspects of the human genome by exploring new areas of human biology and drug discovery whilst making all output freely available to the scientific community with no strings attached.

My current position is funded by the Cure for Huntington’s Disease Initiative (CHDI) Foundation, a non-profit biomedical organisation aiming to “rapidly discover and develop drugs that delay or slow the progression of Huntington’s disease”.

Currently, I am doing research into the structure of huntingtin, the protein which is mutated with a polyglutamine expansion in individuals suffering from Huntington’s disease (HD). By understanding more about the protein structure, greater interpretation will hopefully be made of how huntingtin functions, both in the general population as well as for HD patients. This can potentially offer new avenues for therapeutic development.