Dr Alastair Barr

Dr Alastair Barr

  • 1989 - BSc. (Hons) Pharmacology, University of Glasgow
  • 1994 - DPhil. Pharmacology, University of Oxford

I joined the University of Westminster in 2011 as a Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology and Physiology.  My main research interest is in the structure, function and regulation of protein tyrosine phosphatases and the role of these signalling enzymes in diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology from the University of Glasgow and a DPhil in Pharmacology from the University of Oxford.  I carried out post-doctoral research with Professor David Manning at the University of Pennsylvania on G protein-coupled receptor signalling supported by an American Heart Association fellowship.  After this I worked as post-doctoral researcher at Duke University, USA in the laboratory of Professor Ralph Snyderman on chemoattractant receptor signalling in immune cells and was subsequently appointed as an Assistant Research Professor.

After a short period in the biotech sector I took up a Team Leader position in the phosphorylation-dependent signalling group with Professor Stefan Knapp at the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) Oxford.  At the SGC, I led a project on large-scale structural biology of protein tyrosine phosphatases and also contributed to kinase and membrane protein structural biology projects.

My research uses a combination of cell-based and in vitro assays, molecular biology, protein biochemistry and fluorescence microscopy.

I have numerous peer-reviewed publications in leading scientific and biomedical research journals, have written book chapters and am Guest Editing a collection for the Scientific Video Journal JoVE. I have presented my research at national and international conferences and  I am a member of the British Pharmacological Society and Society for Endocrinology.

Protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs), of both the receptor and non-receptor classes, are key signalling molecules that play critical roles in cellular regulation underlying diverse physiological events.  Aberrant signalling as a result of genetic mutation or altered expression levels has been associated with several diseases, specifically cancer, and pharmacological modulation of PTP activity has been explored as a treatment for several conditions.  The role of the ectodomain in several receptor PTPs is poorly understood.

Specific research projects include:

1) Investigating the functional effects of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in receptor- type protein tyrosine phosphatases and linking SNPs with disease

2) Systematically surveying protein-protein interactions for the receptor-type PTP GLEPP1(PTPRO) using novel techniques with the aim of mapping this protein’s interactome

3) Development of PTP inhibitors (both small molecules and biologicals) that may have potential as novel therapeutics

Former PhD students

Myrsini Tsimon

Olga Dorofejeva


Applicants to lab

Applicants (visitors, PhD students) interested in working in the laboratory should contact Dr Barr (a.barr1@westminster.ac.uk).


The PTP Family Photo Album: https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(08)01513-4

Structures in PDB: https://www.rcsb.org/pdb/results/results.do?tabtoshow=Current&am...

Jove Methods Collection: https://www.jove.com/methods-collections

  • Tissue Architecture and Regeneration Research Group
  • Cancer
  • Cognitive Computing

In brief

Research areas

cell signalling, receptors, phosphatases, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes

Supervision interests

PhD, post-doc, MSc, visiting students