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Professor Adam Benham

Director of PG Studies

BA (Oxon), PhD

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Director of PG Studies in the Department of Biosciences2001+44 (0) 191 33 41259


I graduated from St. Catherine's College, Oxford, with first class honours in Biochemistry and obtained my PhD in transplantation immunology with Prof. John Fabre at the Institute of Child Health, University College, London. I received an EU postdoctoral fellowship to study the biochemistry of antigen presentation with Prof. Jacques Neefjes at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam and then joined Prof. Ineke Braakman's laboratory at Utrecht University, Netherlands, to research mechanisms of protein quality control in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER).

Since establishing my laboratory at Durham University, I have been investigating both the quality control of proteins involved in antigen presentation and the machinery that controls oxidative protein folding. My laboratory is particularly interested in how these fundamentally important biological pathways underpin human and animal health. For example, we have discovered a novel member of the Protein Disulfide Isomerase (PDI) family called PDILT that is required for sperm:egg binding (in collaboration with Osaka University, Japan). This work may lead to the development of new tests and cures for unexplained male infertility and has been covered extensively by the media (see for example We are also working with colleagues at UNIFESP-EPM, Sao Paulo, to understand the role of the PDI family in the development and function of the male epididymis.

Our work on immune molecules (the Major Histocompatibility Complex or MHC) seeks to explain how these proteins are loaded with their peptide cargo and how oxidative protein folding and ER chaperones contribute to their quality control. This has applications in understanding neoantigen presentation and in the design of cancer vaccines. In BBSRC funded work, we are working with Scancell, Notingham and Liverpool University to determine the trafficking of MHC-neoantigen complexes.

Other studies in my laboratory have revealed links between the ER quality control machinery and gastrointestinal disease (in collaboration with clinical colleagues at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough). We are also harnessing new microscopy and quantitative proteomics technologies (SWATH) to explore the biology of proteostasis and stress responses in the skin (in collaboration with P&G), including extracellular matrix proteins such as collagen.

Along with my research commitments, I am Postgraduate Director for the Department of Biosciences, lead the ACAS Departmental research grouping, am module co-ordinator for undergraduate Level 2 Immune Systems and contribute to Biology of Disease teaching at Level 3. I am on the editorial board of the journals "Antioxidants and Redox Signaling" and "Biology Direct" and I serve on the committee for the Society for Experimental Biology (Cell section). I have been appointed as an external examiner for various undergraduate degree courses, most recently for the Cardiff University School of Biosciences undergraduate degree schemes (Biomolecular).

My research has been funded by the BBSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, Arthritis Research UK, Leverhulme Trust, Royal Society, European Union, JGWP Foundation, IBM and FAPESP (Brazil) and the support of these organisations is gratefully acknowledged.

A selection of our peer-reviewed research publications can be found below.

Research interests

  • cell biology and biochemistry
  • immune system
  • oxidative folding of proteins in the Endoplasmic Reticulum

Research groups

  • Animal Cells and Systems

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences: The immune system
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences: Proteostasis - how proteins in cells live and die
  • Bioactive chemistry:


Chapter in book

Journal Article

Supervision students