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Eric Hewitt

Associate Professor in the School of Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Leeds

Dr Eric Hewitt is an Associate Professor in the School of Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Leeds.

His research expertise spans cell biology and immunology, with recent work focusing on the molecular cell biology of human disease and the development of methods to inject molecules into cells.

Eric is an experienced PhD supervisor, and his research group has hosted PhD students funded by the BBSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, Kidney Research UK, as well as scholarship-funded and self-funded international students.  In addition, he has sat on PhD interview panels, been an internal and external examiner, and reviewed doctoral training programmes.

Eric was also recently awarded a Leeds Institute of Teaching Excellence (LITE) fellowship to investigate the awarding gap that exists in higher education between white and minoritised ethnic students, with a particular emphasis on the role of assessment type.

Recent Publications

Chau C, Marcuccio F, Soulias D, Edwards MA, Tuplin A, Radford SE, Hewitt E, Actis P. 2022. Probing RNA Conformations Using a Polymer-Electrolyte Solid-State Nanopore.. ACS nano. 16(12), pp. 20075-20085  

Chau CC, Radford SE, Hewitt EW, Actis P. 2020. Macromolecular Crowding Enhances the Detection of DNA and Proteins by a Solid-State Nanopore. Nano Letters. 20(7), pp. 5553-5561  

Karamanos TK, Jackson MP, Calabrese AN, Goodchild SC, Cawood EE, Thompson GS, Kalverda AP, Hewitt EW, Radford SE. 2019. Structural mapping of oligomeric intermediates in an amyloid assembly pathway. eLife. 8  

Iadanza MG, Jackson MP, Hewitt EW, Ranson NA, Radford SE. 2018. A new era for understanding amyloid structures and disease. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology. 19(12), pp. 755-773  

Tipping KW, Karamanos TK, Jakhria T, Iadanza MG, Goodchild SC, Tuma R, Ranson NA, Hewitt EW, Radford SE. 2015. pH-induced molecular shedding drives the formation of amyloid fibril-derived oligomers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112(18), pp. 5691-5696  

Latest Project

Cell biology and immunology of amyloid disease

The formation of insoluble amyloid fibrils is associated with a spectrum of devastating human disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, type 2 diabetes and dialysis related amyloidosis (DRA). In these disorders the formation of amyloid fibrils results in cellular dysfunction and tissue destruction.  Understanding the mechanisms of amyloid toxicity is a priority if we are to develop new therapeutics for the amyloidoses.

Our goal is to determine how the structure and physical properties of amyloid fibrils and their assembly intermediates affects the function and viability of cells. This involves a highly collaborative and multidisciplinary approach in which information obtained structural biology techniques is integrated with cell biological analyses.  Currently, we are studying the oligomeric assembly intermediates and fibrils formed by the amyloidogenic sequences, α-synuclein (Parkinson’s), amyloid-β (Alzheimer’s) and β2-microglobulin (DRA).  We are examining the uptake of amyloid aggregates by cells, the pathological interactions between amyloid and cellular components, the induction of inflammatory responses, and the effects of amyloid on cellular physiology and cell viability. These experiments use an array of techniques, including plate-based assays for cell viability and metabolism, live cell confocal microscopy, flow cytometry, subcellular fractionation and proteomics. In addition, we are exploring a novel single molecule platform for the delivery of amyloid aggregates into the cytoplasm of cells with colleagues in the School Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Lysosomes in health and disease

Lysosomes are membrane bound organelles whose functions include the degradation of cellular and extracellular material. We are studying the role of lysosomes in amyloid disease and our work suggests that this organelle is a key target for amyloid toxicity. In another project we are studying specialized lysosomes known as secretory lysosomes, which function as regulated secretory organelles in immune cells.

Research projects

Any research projects I’m currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all research projects allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.

Latest Project