Hooke Medal Winner 2023: Andrew Carter

We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2023 Hooke Medal is…

Andrew Carter

Andrew Carter is a group leader at the MRC Lab of Molecular Biology (LMB), Cambridge.  His team focus on the microtubule motor cytoplasmic dynein (dynein) and how it transports its large range of cellular cargos.

Andrew studied biochemistry at Oxford.  He became interested in motors after reading an autobiographical article by Hugh Huxley on the discovery of how muscles contract and wrote his final year dissertation on kinesins.  In 1999 he started a PhD with Venki Ramakrishnan at the LMB using X-ray crystallography to study the ribosome and how it is targeted by antibiotics.

While writing his undergraduate dissertation Andrew met Ron Vale, known for his work on kinesin, at a one-day meeting in London.  In 2003 he joined Ron’s lab as a postdoc to work on dynein focusing on how the motor moves on microtubules.

Andrew returned to the LMB to set up his own lab in 2010.  One of their early discoveries was that BICD2, one of a family of adaptors that link dynein to cellular cargos, works with the dynactin complex to activate dynein motility.  The lab used the cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) to work out how BICD2 brings dynein and dynactin together and how this induces large rearrangements in dynein required for its activation.  Together these studies changed our understanding of how dynein carries out movement in cells.  Instead of dynactin acting as a link between dynein and cargos, Andrew’s work has defined it as an integral part of the dynein transport machine.

Andrew fosters a lab where cell biology, biochemistry and cryo-EM overlap.  A good example was the discovery of a novel pathway involved in assembling the axonemal dyneins that drive cilia beating.  Andrew established protocols for genetically tagging the model ciliate Tetrahymena.  His group used them to find a new protein, they named Shulin, that specifically binds to newly synthesised outer-arm axonemal dyneins (OADs).  Cryo-EM showed Shulin packages and inhibits OADs, whereas knockdown and immunofluorescence experiments suggested its cellular role is to deliver the OADs to newly growing cilia.

Currently a major focus of the group is to combine in vitro and cellular approaches to understand how dynein and other microtubule motors are connected to the cargos transported in neuronal axons.

Andrew will be awarded the Hooke Medal and give a talk about his research during the next joint BSCB/Biochemical Society co-organised meeting Dynamic Cell V which will be held on 17-20 April 2023 at Loughborough University.

You can follow Andrew’s lab at www2.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/groups/cartera/

What is the Hooke medal?

The Hooke Medal is awarded every year by the BSCB and recognises an emerging leader in cell biology.  The award is named after Robert Hooke, the eminent 17th century natural philosopher and author of Micrographia (the world’s first comprehensive illustrated book on microscopy) and is given to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to UK Cell Biology – until we extended the period of eligibility in May 2014 this has usually been within the first 10 years of establishing their own lab. The medal is presented annually at the annual BSCB meeting after which the winner delivers their research talk.

hooke medal

The medal shows Robert Hooke’s microscope and the cork cells he first described. It was designed by Dr Brad Amos.

Since 2015, the Hooke Medal has been awarded to a cell biologist who started their own group within the last 14 years (with allowances for legitimate career breaks).

Previous winners of the Hooke Medal.