My name is Samuel Dada and I am currently a PhD student at the University of Cambridge in the Department of Chemistry. The journey to where I am right now, undertaking a PhD at one of the world’s most prestigious universities, has been anything but smooth. The roads have been bumpy, and there have been lots of hurdles to jump, mountains to climb and rivers to cross, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Samuel’s Academic Background
A brief overview of my journey through academia; I obtained average grades at GCSEs and went on to select Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology for A-levels, but I was dropped from the Chemistry course and told by my teachers and school heads that science was not for me.
I ended up not obtaining the A-level grades I needed to get into my first choice university, but Kingston University London gave me a chance through clearing to study Biochemistry. I graduated with a First-Class Honours degree, finishing in the top 5% of my year and received a Gold Kingston University Award.
I then enrolled at University College London (UCL) to complete a Master of Research degree in Biochemistry (Biosciences) and graduated with a Distinction, receiving the prize for the best MRes research project.
I applied for a couple of PhD programmes during my master’s but was unfortunately unsuccessful. Instead, I went on to work at Imperial College London as a research assistant and at New York University as a laboratory demonstrator. I then secured a scholarship with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) doctoral training programme (DTP) at the University of Cambridge for a PhD in 2019 and started documenting my journey on YouTube.
My PhD project looks at understanding the molecular origins of Parkinson’s disease. I study this by focusing on elucidating the mechanism of action, protein misfolding and kinetics of aggregation of an intrinsically disordered protein implicated in Parkinson’s (𝛂-synuclein) through liquid-liquid phase separation (the partitioning of a heterogeneous solution into two phases, a dense/concentrated phase and a dilute phase).
Chemistry is so important to my research because it plays a fundamental role in unravelling and providing a rationale for the observed biological manifestation of Parkinson’s and helps us understand the molecular structure of the amino acids associated with the misfolding of 𝛂-synuclein. I personally love the holistic intersectionality between chemistry and biology as it paves way for new scientific discoveries and breakthroughs, which is so exciting.
An emerging area of research in chemistry which has piqued my interest is the microbiome and bioactive compounds. Unravelling the secrets of the trillions of microbes harbouring our bodies has not only gained a lot of attention from the biological world but has provided a brand new exciting paradigm for therapeutics and drug discovery within chemistry.
The microscopic life within us is immensely diverse and is constantly releasing metabolites and bioactive compounds to modulate our physiology and immune response. Chemistry has been a game-changer in the identification of these compounds, which could be isolated and used as novel therapeutic candidates to revolutionise the future of healthcare.
Watch Samuel explore DNA for our online platform, Chemistry Club.
We filmed Samuel in the Department of of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge to create some fantastic content for Chemistry Club.