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Engineering Biology in Cambridge



My research focuses on the dynamics of post-transcriptional control of gene expression. After my undergraduate studies in Biochemistry at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand I pursued a PhD in Biochemistry at University College Cork, Ireland where I focused on elucidating non-canonical gene expression mechanisms in RNA viruses. During this time, I discovered and characterised novel mechanisms viruses use to generate previously unknown, but essential factors for infection. First, in the potyviruses - the largest family of plant viruses, I discovered and characterised a novel gene expression mechanism that results in the production of an essential viral protein PIPO (Pretty Interesting Potyvirius ORF), required for the virus to travel from cell to cell. Second, I discovered and characterised the TF protein of alphaviruses - a group of clinically important mosquito-transmitted arboviruses - where TF is important for the stability of the virus particles.

Following my studies on unusual protein synthesis mechanisms, and supported by Long-Term EMBO and Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships, I joined the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, where I worked on deciphering the regulation of protein synthesis in plants, making use of the unicellular green algae Chlamydomonas to reveal the ancestral mechanism of miRNA-mediated translational regulation. Now, through a Medical Research Council Career Development Fellowship, I have established my research group in the Department of Pathology where my group aims to understand how living organisms utilise novel protein synthesis regulatory mechanisms to counteract external stresses, especially during host:pathogen interaction (animal) and in response to temperature fluctuation (plants).


Translational control, RNA, host pathogen interactions, temperature


Key publications: 

Chung, B. (co-corresponding author), Balcerowicz, M., Antonio, M., Jaeger, K., Geng, F., Franaszek, K., Marriott, P., Brierley, I., Firth, A., Wigge, P. (2020) An RNA thermometer regulates daytime growth in Arabidopsis. Nature Plants DOI:10.1038/s41477-020-0633-3, with an accompanying News and Views highlight; selected for two Faculty 1000, "hot and highly cited" by Thompson Reuter. First case of a eukaryotic RNA ThermoSwitch that controls protein synthesis.

Chung, B. (co-corresponding author), Deery, M., Groen, A., Howard, J., and Baulcombe, D. (2017) Endogenous miRNA in the green alga Chlamydomonas regulate translation repression through CDS-targeting. Nature Plants DOI:10.1038/s41477-017-0024-6 with an accompanying News and Views highlight. First demonstration of the global effects and targeting efficacy of endogenous miRNA on gene expression in plants.

Chung, B. (co-corresponding author), Hardcastle, T., Jones, J., Irigoyen, N., Firth, A., Baulcombe, D., and Brierley, I. (2015) The use of duplex-specific nuclease in ribosome profiling and a user-friendly software package for Ribo-Seq data analysis. RNA DOI: 10.1261/rna.052548.115. Development of a non-organism specific rRNA depletion method for ribosome profiling and a software package for simultaneous analysis of ribosome profiling and corresponding RNA-seq.

Contact Details

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