Mark Sansom - Biography#

Mark Sansom was educated at the University of Oxford, obtaining a 1st Class BA in Biochemistry (1979) and a D.Phil. in Molecular Biophysics (1983), the latter under the supervision of Louise Johnson. His D.Phil. studies focussed on crystallographic and computational studies of glycogen phosphorylase and other proteins. He moved to the University of Nottingham as a SERC postdoctoral fellow (1983), to undertake studies of ion channel gating mechanisms. After a year he obtained a junior faculty (lecturer) position (1984-1991). This was held concurrently with advanced research fellowships from the Nuffield Foundation (1989) and SERC (1990).

In 1991 Sansom moved to the University of Oxford to a faculty position in Biochemistry. In 2011 he was elected to the David Phillips chair of Molecular Biophysics, which he held until retirement in 2021. From 2011-2018 he was Head of the Biochemistry Department.

Sansom’s research interests are focussed on membrane proteins, using computational and biophysical approaches. Current work uses molecular simulations to explore the relationship between membrane protein structure and function, with an especial interest in ion channels and membrane receptors. The two major themes are: (i) membrane protein/lipid interactions in membrane protein organization and regulation; and (ii) the behaviour of water and ions in in relation to ion channel gating and selectivity. He has collaborated with many structural biology groups worldwide using molecular simulations to advance functional interpretation of novel membrane protein structures.

Sansom has run a major membrane simulation group (of up to 25 researchers), attracting graduate students, research fellows and visitors from Europe, North America, and Asia. His research has attracted substantive support from: BBSRC, EPSRC, and the Wellcome Trust. The industrial relevance of his work has been recognized by many joint studentships with the pharmaceutical and computing sectors.

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