Christina Sutherland

I am a PhD student at the Leiden University Medical Center, under the supervision of Dr. Monique Mulder. I hold a BSc degree in Chemistry from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, where I majored in Chemical Synthesis and Biochemistry. I subsequently completed an MSc in Medicinal Chemistry, at the University of Copenhagen, and Drug Discovery and Safety, at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, as part of their Double Degree collaboration. During this time, I mainly worked on Fragment-Based Drug Discovery, synthesizing novel 3D fragments for enrichment of the VU in-house fragment library and I also completed internships related to Virtual Ligand Screening, as well as Total Synthesis. After spending a year in industry working as a medicinal chemist, I started my PhD at the Cell and Chemical Biology department of LUMC.

Having always had a fascination for the biochemistry behind disease emergence and a keen interest in the development of novel therapeutics, I will now combine my knowledge in synthetic chemistry and biochemistry to study the mechanisms behind the development of Huntington’s disease.

In my PhD project, part of the CureQ consortium (WP4), I will be studying the interplay between (de)ubiquitination and Huntington’s disease. Increasing selective turnover of the mutant huntingtin protein by selectively manipulating its ubiquitination represents an attractive therapeutic approach to prevent or delay onset and progression of disease. More specifically, I will be developing chemical tools to investigate the involvement of ubiquitination and deubiquitination in the clearance, or lack thereof, of the mutant Huntingtin protein. This work will provide an improved understanding of protein aggregation in polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases such as Huntington’s disease. Additionally, I aim to modulate the system by identifying small molecule modulators to improve mutant Huntington clearance.