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Dr Cara Vaughan
ISMB, School of Biological Sciences
Birkbeck College, Malet Street
  • Lecturer
  • Structural & Molecular Biology
  • Div of Biosciences
  • Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL Subsidiary Supervisor
Research Themes
Research Summary

The molecular chaperone Hsp90 is involved in the activation of many proteins involved in signal transduction and cell cycle pathways, making it a critical determinant of proper cellular function. 

Hsp90-dependent kinetochore assemby

A recently discovered role of Hsp90 is in the assembly and/or regulation of the kinetochore. This is part of the mitotic apparatus that functions in the segregation sister chromatids to daughter cells. The kinetochore assembles on centromeric DNA forming a bridge between sister chromatids and the microtubules of the spindle pole and has the ability to maintain this connection despite the rapid polymerisation and depolymerisation of the attached microtubules. It is also the origin of the spindle assembly checkpoint that signals the anaphase-wait. 

My current research focuses on the role of Hsp90 in kinetochore assembly and function, using the budding yeastSaccharomyces cerevisiae as a model organism.

Post Translational Modification of Hsp90 Cochaperones

Post translational modification of Hsp90 and its cochaperones is emerging as an important layer of regulation of Hsp90 function. I am currently interested in understanding the structural and functional consequences of phosphorylation of Hsp90 cochaperones. 


The techniques we use include X-ray crystallography and single particle electron microscopy, but other biophysical and biochemical techniques are used to complement structural studies.

Teaching Summary
I currently teach lectures on Bioc2004 (Biomolecular Structure and Function) and Bioc3003 (Advanced Biomolecular Mechanisms) at UCL, and am a tutor on Bioc1007 (The Principles and Practice of Experimental Biochemistry). At Birkbeck I teach on the MSc in Bioinformatics with Systems Biology and on the BSc Biology in the Advanced Cellular Biology module. I also contribute to a series of techniques lectures run at Birkbeck College for PhD students and postdoctoral researchers in the department.
Academic Background
1999   Doctor of Philosophy University of Cambridge
1994   Bachelor of Science (Honours) University of Glasgow
    ATQ07 - Holder of a PGCE in higher education, secondary edu, further edu, life long lear  
    ATQ02 - Recognised by the HEA as an Associate Fellow  
2001   PGCE. King's College London
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