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Dr Joseph Gault

Extraordinary Junior Research Fellow in Chemistry


I am from Tamworth in Staffordshire and as an undergraduate studied Chemistry at Imperial College London. During my Masters year I was an ERASMUS scholar at l’Ecole Polytechnique (l’X), France, where I also completed my PhD. During my doctorate I had the opportunity to spend nine months as a visiting student at Boston University, USA and my final year of research at the Institut Pasteur, Paris. I then returned to the UK, and to Oxford, where I have been a Postdoctoral Researcher in Dame Professor Carol Robinson’s group in the Department of Chemistry since 2014. I took up my position as a Junior Research Fellow at Queen’s in 2016.


In addition to supervising several Chemistry Part II and DPhil candidates, I have taught Biophysics to first-year Biochemists since 2016.


My research aims to understand the complex mechanisms that cells use to regulate the function of proteins. Proteins, the biomolecules that perform the chemistry of life, are encoded by the genes in our DNA, but one gene rarely translates directly into a single protein form. Even “simple” organisms like bacteria can decorate proteins with other biomolecules like sugars and fats to fine-tune their function. Hormones, drugs, and even other proteins can then associate together to form complexes and add an additional layer of functional complexity.

I use and develop a technique called mass spectrometry to weigh individual proteins, and proteins assemblies. By doing this very precisely, and then by breaking them apart inside the mass spectrometer, we can determine their chemical composition, identify the constituent protein forms, and even get an idea of how the proteins are arranged. This information reveals clues as to how protein function is regulated in cells and provides new avenues for development of therapeutics.


“High-resolution mass spectrometry of small molecules bound to membrane proteins” J. Gault et al. Nature Methods (2016) 13, 333–336

“Neisseria meningitidis type IV pili composed of sequence invariable pilins are masked by multisite glycosylation” J Gault et al. PLoS pathogens (2015) 11, 9, e1005162

“Posttranslational modification of pili upon cell contact triggers N. meningitidis dissemination” J Chamot-Rooke et al. Science (2014) 331, 6018, 778-782

For a complete publication list please see my Google Scholar page.