ESR 4 – Ahmad Abdullrahman


Supervisor: Dr. James Hall

Host: University of Reading, UK

Country of origin: Italy

Research: Crystallization and structural characterization of triplexes and triplex-ligand systems using DNA X-ray crystallography

Ahmad will apply X-ray crystallography to explore the structural properties of DNA triplexes. A key aim of the project is to provide the first x-ray crystal structure of a triplex-forming nucleotide (TFO). During his project, Ahmad will investigate the crystal structure of intercalators based on polypyridyl complexes that bind in the major groove of triplexes. Finally, his studies on Cu(II) and Ru(II) complexes will part of the development of gene editing systems.

Publications within NATURE-ETN

  1. Dalla Pozza, M., Abdullrahman, A., Cardin, C.J., Gasser, G., and Hall, J. Three’s a crowd – stabilisation, structure, and applications of DNA triplexes. Chemical Science (2022).

Scientific background:

Ahmad holds a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from the University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy (2016) during which he developed a strong interest in molecular biology. Ahmad graduated successfully with a thesis on the role of miRNAs in the treatment of cancer. He continued his studies at the University of Turin, Italy, completing his master’s degree in Medical Biotechnology at the Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Health Sciences (2018). During his master and internship, he worked as an intern at the department of Biochemistry. The master project was conducted in cooperation with the Helmholtz Zentrum München investigating reversing resistance with several membrane receptors in tumor cells. Ahmad actively contributed to the publication entitled “Increasing intratumor C/EBP-β LIP and nitric oxide levels overcome resistance to doxorubicin in triple-negative breast cancer”. (1)  In 2020 Ahmad joined the NATURE-ETN project as PhD student at the University of Reading, UK.

(1) Salaroglio IC, Gazzano E, Abdullrahman A, Mungo E, Castella B, Abd-Elrahman GEFA-E, et al. Increasing intratumor C/EBP-β LIP and nitric oxide levels overcome resistance to doxorubicin in triple negative breast cancer. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2018;37(1). 10.1186/s13046-018-0967-0

Personal background:

Ahmad grew up in Italy, however, his Lebanese genes lead him to explore and live in different countries, where he garnered experience working in an international environment. During his bachelor studies, he was first captivated by the world of molecular biology and successively has plunged into the knowledge of chemoresistance. However, something was missing. The ability to see with his eyes how exactly pharmaceutical drugs operate was required to fill the gap between the understanding of the structural features and the biological application. NATURE-ETN was born as an interdisciplinary research project to connect different aspects of drug development. This PhD is Ahmad’s opportunity to sail in the sea of crystallography.