Routes into employment – STEM event

Was great meeting all of the S4 pupils from St Andrews High, Kirkcaldy, at the routes into employment STEM “speed dating” event yesterday. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. I wish them all the best in their future careers. – Dr Samantha J. Pitt

Defective zinc handling may be a key contributor in the development of thrombosis

Histidine-rich glycoprotein (HRG) is a plasma protein that regulates a number of biological processes in the blood including coagulation, through its ability to bind and neutralize heparins. HRG contains a distinctive histidine-rich region that associates with zinc ions (Zn2+) to stimulate HRG-heparin complex formation. Under normal conditions the majority of Zn2+ in plasma associates with serum albumin. However, clinically high levels of free fatty acid (FFA) allosterically disrupt the major Zn2+-binding site on serum albumin and are associated with an increased risk of thrombotic complications. The Stewart group report in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis that increased levels of circulatory fatty acids are likely to increase the proportion of plasma Zn2+ associated with HRG. In this study the Zn2+-binding properties of HRG and the formation of HRG-heparin complexes in the presence of different Zn2+ concentrations were investigated. Furthermore, the binding of Zn2+ to serum albumin was examined in the presence of various concentrations of myristate by ITC. Speciation modeling of plasma Zn2+ based upon the data obtained from these experiments suggests that FFA-mediated displacement of Zn2+ from serum albumin is likely to contribute to the development of thrombotic complications in individuals with high plasma FFA levels – Full text is available online.

Zinc Workshop

The first Zinc-NET workshop was held at the Institute of Ophthalmology, at University College London, 4th and the 5th of November.

There was an impressive line-up of speakers who discussed how to measure zinc and a “hands-on ” session for the participants. Dr Samantha Pitt would like to thank the organisers, tutors and speakers for a highly informative and thought provoking session.

For more info visit zinc-net:


Calcium Signalling: The Next Generation

The calcium signalling meeting was a huge success. A very enjoyable and informative meeting.

Thanks to Prof. Sandip Patel and Dr Grant Churchill for putting together such an exciting programme.

Dr Samantha Pitt would like to thank the organisers for giving her the opportunity not only to present her work but also to chair a session for the first time!

International Society for Zinc Biology 2014

The ISZB meeting 2014 was a huge success and we would like to thank the organisers for putting together such an exciting programme.

Dr Samantha Pitt gave a talk entitled “The role of zinc in cardiac excitation-contraction coupling” and would like to thank ISZB for being selected as an awardee of an early career speaker prize at this meeting.

Dr Alan Stewart also presented his work on “Structural and biochemical characterization of zinc binding to serum albumin”.

Tenovus Scotland – Small Grant

Mant thanks to Tenovus Scotland for supporting our research. Dr Samantha Pitt and her team have just received a small grant to examine a new role for zinc in regulating cardiac sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium release.


Calcium Signalling: The Next Generation

Biochemical Society
9-10th October 2014

A Biochemical Society Focused Meeting

The aim of this meeting is to cover advances and controversies relating to intracellular Ca2+ channel function and dysfunction. Sessions will be led by early career scientists in order to engage “The next generation” of Ca2+ signallers. The meeting will cover contemporary developments in Ca2+ signalling mediated by the three main classes of intracellular Ca2+ release channels sensitive to NAADP, IP3 and ryanodine.