Associate Professor Justin Benesch

University of Oxford, UK

After a degree in Chemistry at the University of Oxford, Justin obtained his PhD from the University of Cambridge for the development and application of novel mass spectrometry approaches for the study of large protein assemblies.

He was then awarded fellowships from the Medical Research Council and Royal Society, before being appointed to faculty at the University of Oxford in 2012, where he is now Associate Professor in Biophysical Chemistry, and Tutorial Fellow in Physical Chemistry at University College.

The Benesch group is interested in understanding the biophysical underpinnings of molecular chaperone activity, including the forms, movements, and interactions they make. Of particular interest to the group are the small heat-shock proteins, a ubiquitous family of chaperones whose study at the molecular level has been long frustrated by their inherent dynamics and heterogeneity.

The group has overcome these challenges by performing experiments primarily using cutting-edge mass spectrometry techniques in combination with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography and scattering, and electron microscopy. This integrative approach has allowed them to obtain mechanistic insights into the function of these important proteins at the level of the fundamental thermodynamics and kinetics of the system.