Lori Passmore, Group Leader in the LMB’s Structural Studies Division, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Joining her is LMB alumnus M. Madan Babu, who was previously also a Group Leader in the LMB’s Structural Studies Division.
The Royal Society is a Fellowship of the world’s most distinguished scientists. Founded in 1660, it is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Candidates for Fellowship must be nominated by two existing Fellows, and have made a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including medical science, mathematics and engineering science. For the 2023 elections, Fellows were selected from around 680 candidates, and Foreign Members from around 90 candidates.
Lori has been a Group Leader at the LMB since 2009, where she leads a programme of research investigating the mechanisms of macromolecular protein complexes involved in regulating gene expression and DNA repair. Lori uses an integrated approach combining structural, biochemical and functional studies, aiming to reconstitute multi-protein complexes and their activities, and to determine their high-resolution structures to better understand their mechanisms. To aid this, her group have also developed new supports for electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) which reduce image blurring.
Lori’s group have contributed to our understanding of mRNA processing and stability by poly(A) tails. Recently, her group fully reconstituted the cellular machineries that are needed for processing the end of mRNAs. They found that Mpe1 in yeast and RBBP6 in humans are critical for activating CPF and CPSF respectively, protein complexes vital to generating mRNA 3’ ends. Inhibiting the human 3’-end processing machinery has been shown to produce anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory responses; the recombinant systems that Lori’s group have developed could help in the discovery and understanding of new therapeutics.
Lori received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of British Columbia before earning a PhD from The Institute of Cancer Research (University of London) for ‘Structural and Functional Studies of the Anaphase-Promoting Complex/Cyclosome (APC/C)’ supervised by David Barford. She joined the LMB as a Career Development Fellow in 2004, working with Venki Ramakrishnan and Richard Henderson to investigate the structures of complexes involved in initiation of eukaryotic translation.
Lori’s research has previously been recognised with the Elisa Izaurralde Award from The RNA Society in 2019, election to EMBO membership in 2018, and the Suffrage Science Scheme Award given by MRC LMS in 2016.
Commenting on her election to Royal Society Fellowship, Lori said, “I am extremely honoured to be recognised by the Royal Society, which acknowledges the work of past and present members of my group who are a truly fantastic team. I am very grateful for their creativity, curiosity, collaboration and persistence, and for believing in each other to achieve amazing things.”
Congratulations also to LMB alumnus M. Madan Babu, who was also elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society this year. Madan was a Group Leader in the LMB’s Structural Studies Division from 2006 where he studied the molecular basis of human diseases caused by regulatory dysfunction. In 2020, Madan moved to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Tennessee, USA where he is the Endowed Chair in Biological Data Sciences and the Director of the Center for Excellence for Data Driven Discovery.