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Christina Heroven

DPhil, MSc, BSc

Wellcome Early Career Fellow

  • Postdoctoral Scientist


After starting a Biochemistry degree at her hometown of Concepción, Chile, Christina obtained a DAAD scholarship to pursue her studies in Germany. Christina completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biochemistry at the Freie Universität Berlin, where she specialised in structural biology. During her Master’s thesis at Prof Stefan Knapp’s laboratory at the University of Oxford, Christina applied X-ray crystallography to better understand how kinase inhibitors can be improved. Christina then went on to pursue her DPhil in the group of Prof Radu Aricescu at the University of Oxford and the MRC-LMB in Cambridge. During her DPhil, Christina used cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) to determine the structures of cell surface receptors and study their role in trans-synaptic signalling. 

In 2021, Christina joined Dr Ricardo Fernandes’ team at the CAMS Oxford Institute as a postdoctoral researcher, with the aim of using protein engineering to study and control the role of cell surface receptors in cancer. In 2023, Christina obtained a Wellcome Early Career Fellowship to explore the interplay between receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and phosphatases in cancer, and to develop novel molecular tools to shut down RTK signalling. 

Research Interests

Receptors are molecules at the surface of cells that receive signals from the surrounding environment. These cell surface receptors are essential to life, as they instruct the cell to grow, differentiate or migrate, among other crucial functions. Very often, malfunctioning receptors are responsible for the development of diseases, including cancer. Christina is interested in understanding the contribution of receptor signalling in cancer, particularly the interplay between two classes of enzymes that act as “on” and “off” switches: kinases and phosphatases. As a structural biochemist, Christina is interested in the molecular mechanisms that support receptor signalling, and in developing new molecules that allow us to modulate the function of these receptors. 

Recent publications

More publications