Personal profile

Research Interests

I lead AIME, a collaborative, multi-disciplinary team of principal investigators, who work on membrane proteins and lipids at Aston. Membrane proteins play pivotal roles in all cellular functions including the transport of nutrients, the export of toxins and cell-cell interactions. They are also ubiquitous: ~30% of all proteins in all cells are membrane proteins. Consequently they are already key drug targets, with the majority of prescription pharmaceuticals on the market being targeted to this class of protein. Unfortunately, however, they are neither naturally abundant nor stable, which means that in the vast majority of cases extracting them from natural sources is not a viable option in order to study their structures, functions and biochemistry.

A main theme of my research activity is developing yeast as a “cell factory” to synthesize recombinant membrane proteins in sufficient quantity and of appropriate quality for further study. My team's approach is to move away from “trial and error” and to rationalize recombinant protein production by understanding the host cell response to it.  We aim to increase the volumetric yield, increase the yield “per cell” and understand the molecular mechanisms involved.

I work on a range of membrane proteins. However, my main focus is understanding the regulation of the aquaporin water channel proteins. Aquaporins form one of the protein families we produce in our yeast cell factories and are of interest as novel drug targets. We first showed that AQP1 is regulated by extracellular water availability (Biochemistry. 2010, 49:821-3). This work was featured on the front cover of its issue, and as part of the 50th birthday cover. These early findings culminated in our 2020 publication in Cell (2020, 181, 784-799) where we show that subcellular localization of AQP4 can be targetted to treat brain and spinal cord swelling. We also work on tetraspanins, especially CD81, as well as a range of GPCRs.

I acknowledge the European Research Council, the European Commission, Research England, BBSRC, EPSRC, Innovate UK, AstraZeneca Ltd, Alpha Biologics Ltd, Applikon Biotechnology, Johnson & Johnson, Glycoform Ltd, GSK Ltd, and Polytherics Ltd for their support. I have co-ordinated three Framework Programme 6 projects: European Membrane Protein Consortium(E-MeP), E-MeP-Lab and OptiCryst. My reserach team was a partner of the Framework Programme 7 EDICT project. I am a current ERC Advanced Grantee.

Follow me on Twitter (X): @RoslynBill

 

Employment

Qualifications

DPhil; Wellcome Trust Prize Student, University of Oxford, Bio-Organic Chemistry, 1995.

BA (Hons) 1st Class; University of Oxford, Chemistry, 1990; MA 1993.

Awards

2023 ERC Advanced Grantee

2019 Aston University Chancellor’s Medal for Outstanding Contribution

2019 Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) National Lecturer

2017 Awarded Aston University 50th Anniversary Chair Medal

2013 Elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry (CChem FRSC)

2013 Elected to Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)

2012 Elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB)

2000- Member, Biochemical Society

1996-1998 Fulbright Award

1994 Elected to Membership of the Royal Society of Chemistry (CChem MRSC)

1991-1994 Wellcome Trust Prize Studentship

1986-1990 Numerous annual undergraduate prizes, including University Scholarship (St Hilda’s College, 1986-1990) and the Turbutt Prize for Practical Organic Chemistry

Membership of Professional Bodies

Research Councils

  • Chair of BBSRC Committee E for two terms (1st January 2019 to 31st December 2021 and 1st January 2022 to 31st December 2024)
  • Member of REF2021 Sub-Panel 8 (Chemistry), since February 2020
  • Member of Future Leaders Fellowships Panel College since August 2018
  • Chair of UKRI Interview Panel C, Future Leaders Fellowships, 2019
  • Deputy Chair UKRI Sift Panel C, Future Leaders Fellowships, 2018
  • Service on BBSRC Committees and Panels: Member of BBSRC Pool of Experts since 2010; served on Committee D and the ALERT14 and ALERT 22 panels; core member of Committee E (2018) and Committee B (2014-2017); DTP mid-term reviewer 2017; CTP panel 2021
  • Reviewer for MRC, BBSRC, Wellcome Trust, The Human Frontier Science Program, The Chilean, French, Israeli, Japanese, Swedish and Swiss National Research Councils, The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the European Research Council
  • Evaluator of the Doctoral Programme ‘Molecular Enzymology’ for the Austrian Science Fund

Journals

  • Executive Editor of BBA-Biomembranes since July 2022
  • Member of the Editorial Board of Membranes since 2020, BBA-Biomembranes since 2019, Microbial Cell Factories since 2014, Molecular Biotechnology 2010-2020, Biotechnology Letters 2010-2021
  • Guest Editor for IJMS (‘CNS Injury’, 2022), BBA-Biomembranes (‘Aquaporins’, 2021), Methods (‘Recombinant Membrane Proteins’, 2018), Current Opinion in Structural Biology (‘New Constructs and Expression of Proteins’, 2015) and Molecular Membrane Biology (two special editions on ‘European Drug Initiative on Channels and Transporters’, 2012-2013)
  • Reviewer for numerous biotechnology and bioscience journals

Learned Societies

  • Founding member of the aquaporin sub-committee, IUPHAR/Guide to Pharmacology (https://www.guidetopharmacology.org/GRAC/FamilyDisplayForward?familyId=119), 2020
  • Biochemical Society Local Ambassador at Aston University since 2007
  • Member of the Chemistry/Biology Interface Forum Executive 2006.

Teaching Activity

I am the coordinator of the final year module, BC6ACM, Advanced Cell Membranes

Administrative Roles

Member of the Biosciences Research Group; Cellular and Molecular Biomedicine

Director - Aston Membrane Proteins and Lipids

Member - Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing

Contact Details

email: r.m.bill@aston.ac.uk
telephone:  +44 121 204 4274  
fax: +44 121 204 4175

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy

External positions

Chair, BBSRC Research Committee E

Full Panel Member, REF2021 Sub-Panel 8, REF2021 sub-panel 8

Executive Editor, BBA-Biomembranes

Keywords

  • QH301 Biology
  • Recombinant proteins
  • Yeast
  • Membrane proteins
  • Aquaporins
  • Tetraspanins
  • G protein-coupled receptors

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