Dr Denise V Dear

Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science

Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

Department:School of Life Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Molecular techniques , Cell and Molecular Biology

Denise is a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science interested in characterizing and identifying threshold levels of protein damage which lead to disease-associated protein aggregation and its inhibition by phytochemicals


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Dr Denise Dear is an experienced researcher, bioscience educator within the HE and FE sectors in the UK and a Member of the Royal Society of Biology (East Anglian committee).  As a research bio-scientist based at the University of Cambridge for many years, Denise published within a number of areas including monoclonal antibody development, pig genomics and prion protein fields within both academic, government and industrial arenas. She has lectured and tutored at a number of UK institutions in the sciences which have included University College, London, University of Westminster and Anglia Ruskin University and is a STEM ambassador in the UK.

Research interests

Inhibition of disease-associated protein aggregations
In particular, I am interested in identifying how and which post-translational modifications (PTMs) can lead to protein conformational change as evidenced by protein aggregation and identifying potential inhibitors (particularly plant-derived anti-oxidants) of this often disease-associated phenomenon. To enable this, a number of model systems to allow measurement of aggregation have been developed and in the long term, the efficacy of combining identified inhibitory species in an appropriate drug delivery format will be studied.

The phenomenon of redox switching by plant-derived anti-oxidants
One observation which has arisen from these studies has been the phenomenon of redox switching of anti-oxidants i.e. instead of expected beneficial effects, the anti-oxidant becomes harmful acting as a pro-oxidant. This switching phenomenon has been observed elsewhere and may be why the use of anti-oxidants has not translated well from promising in vitro results to in vivo clinical trials. Switching is affected by threshold values for concentration, metal ions, and pH. Comprehensive knowledge of the redox switch points for many anti-oxidants is currently unknown but may have significance for therapeutic and health strategies e.g with regard to anti-oxidant routes within cellular compartments.

Areas of research supervision

  • Deimination of prion protein
  • Anti-microbial action of green teas
  • Anti-microbial action of essential oils
  • Inhibition of lysozyme aggregation by punicagalin
  • Identification and comparison of bacterial species found on fomites and in animal specimens.


BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science
Module Leader for General Microbiology
Module Leader for Microbial Pathogenicity

MSc Biomedical Science (Distance Learning)
Module Tutor


  • PhD (Cantab), Darwin College, University of Cambridge (1983-87)
  • BSc (Hons), University of Birmingham (1980-93)
  • Part1A M.B. Ch.B, Girton College, University of Cambridge (1977-79)
  • PgDipEducation, University College, London (2009-11)

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Associate Fellow of Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow of Society of Education and Training
  • Member of Royal Society of Biology
  • Associate Editor and Peer Reviewer; Studies in Graduate and Post-doctoral Education 2016-current
  • Associate Editor, Member of Editorial Board International Journal for Researcher Development, 2008-2016 
  • Peer reviewer Journal of Further and Higher Education

Selected recent publications

Researcher and Educational Development
Dear, D.V. (2017) “Yes but can they change a light bulb” Intuition Summer Issue: https://content.yudu.com/web/4184q/0A4184s/Issue28/html/index.html?page=22

Dear, D.V. (2016) Do student-centred learning activities improve learning outcomes on a BTEC Applied Science course taught within a further education setting in the UK? Journal of Further and Higher Education; https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0309877X.2016.1177170

Dear D.V. (2013) Interdisciplinary Teaching – one approach to engaging translators with the principles behind science and technology in Proceedings of 12th Teaching and Learning Symposium, University of Westminster

Dear, D.V. (2013) Teaching in Research – an overlooked practice? in Proceedings of Learning and Teaching Conference 2012, Networks 16 89-92

Dear, D.V. (2010) What difference can policy make to professional contract researchers? International Journal for Researcher Development Vol.1 (4) http://www.researcher-development.co.uk/current-issue

Dear, D.V. (2009) Portfolio academic careers – growing evidence for green shoots of a new academic model Abstract 1.15 p17 in SRHE Postgraduate and Newer Researchers Conference Book of Abstracts 2009

Dear, D.V. (2009) Researcher Development Challenges Research Intelligence (BERA) 108 p17 

Dear, D.V. (2009) Birth of a Journal – Editorial thoughts

Dear D.V. (2008) Professional Development for Principal Investigators Vitae East of England Hub News October 2008

Proteins and Protein Chemistry
Young, D. S., Meersman, F., Oxley, D.,Webster, J., Gill, A.C., Bronstein, I, Lowe, C.R. and Dear, D.V. (2009) Effect of enzymatic deimination on the conformation of recombinant prion protein Biochim Biophys Acta. 1794(8): 1123-33.

Polyakova, O, Dear, D.V., Dodson, G. et al. (2008) Prion protein is cleaved by cathepsin S to release a potentially neurotoxic fragment with non-fibrillar aggregation properties Eur Biophys 38(2) 209-18

Dear, D.V. et al. (2007) Effects of post-translational modifications on prion protein aggregation and the propagation of scrapie-like characteristics in vitro Biochim Biophys Acta Jul; 1774(7): 792-802

Dear, D.V. (Patent No: GB0427483.3, Filed 15/12/04) RAPI-SC test - simple method for prion disease detection in the abbatoir.