Meet our Early Career Scientist Grant Winner Adam Cawte

Meet our Early Career Scientist Grant Winner Adam Cawte
3 months ago

Meet our Early Career Scientist Grant Winner Adam Cawte

It’s time to introduce our next Early Career Scientist Grant winner! Adam Cawte is a postdoc working at the University of Oxford, UK, and the latest winner of our monthly $500 career support grant!

Each month we award one lucky life science PhD or postdoc with a $500 grant to help support their career development. The grant is totally flexible and can be used to cover travel expenses to a conference, publishing fees, lab supplies, or anything else that will help to advance the research of an early career life scientist. To date we’ve awarded more than $17,000 in grants, and we wanted to find out more about our latest winner!

Adam works in the Brockdorff Lab at the University of Oxford, and will use his grant to help fund his trip to the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory conference on ‘Genome Organisation & Nuclear Function’ in New York, USA, from 30th April to 4th May 2024.

When we asked Adam how he felt about receiving the award, he told us:

I am extremely grateful to be awarded the Hello Bio Early Career Scientist Grant. This grant will help facilitate my attendance of the Cold Spring Harbour meeting on Genome Organisation and Nuclear Function. This conference will be a great opportunity to further my career in academia and serve as a platform to discuss my recent results with the scientific community. Adam Cawte, University of Oxford, UK, Hello Bio Early Career Scientist Grant winner


Congratulations Adam! First, can you tell us a bit more about your current research work?

Throughout my career I have had a keen interest in lncRNA biology and novel RNA imaging technologies. I joined the Brockdorff group at the University of Oxford in 2019 and have since been developing new methodologies to image and map the lncRNA Xist during X-chromosome inactivation. 

In XX females, X-chromosome inactivation is a process in which one X-chromosome is silenced at random in every somatic cell of an organism. This is to allow for the correct gene dosage compensation with respect to XY males. This process of X-chromosome inactivation is initiated by the spreading of Xist RNA across the X-chromosome and its subsequent recruitment of epigenetic silencing factors. My research is aimed at dissecting the different diffusive behaviours that Xist RNAs use when spreading across an entire chromosome in cis. 

Furthermore, I am investigating how key players involved in RNA tethering and stability affect Xist mobility and interaction with chromatin. Greater knowledge of these mechanisms may help us to further understand the wide variety of nuclear associated ncRNAs and how they affect nuclear architecture and epigenetic gene regulation.


What is it about your field of research that gets you most excited?

As an imaging specialist I am always astounded by the technical developments in super-resolution microscopy and novel strategies for labelling biological samples. The ability for us to see more and over a longer time scale is really helping us to understand many biological processes in greater detail.


Which scientists working today do you most admire, and why?

I really admire Eric Betzig and his work in developing lattice light-sheet microscopy as it focuses on reducing phototoxicity whilst retaining imaging resolution. This makes it possible to visualise biological processes in living cells for long periods of time. 


What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing life scientists and their work?

Academia is an environment that helps support new and innovative thinkers with the freedom to work creatively. But sometimes I feel the way in which academic research is funded leads to many researchers concerned for their job security and financial stability. I do hope measures will eventually be put in place to support academic jobs. 


And finally… what’s your favourite science quote?

“The great tragedy of science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.” - Thomas Huxley


Why not apply for our next monthly grant?

Application is quick and easy, just fill out the form here:


Thank you so much Adam! We wish you all the very best with your future research, and we hope you enjoy your time at the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory conference!

Connect with Adam and the team at the Brockdorff Lab:


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