Julie Aspden

Job Title: UAF in Pervasive Transcription

Julie is interested in understanding how genes are expressed and how mistakes in these processes can result in human disease.


The genetic code needs to be interpreted and this relies upon making a copy termed ribonucleic acid (RNA). RNA is bound by protein factors that regulate its activity. Disruptions to these RNA-protein interactions are highly detrimental to cell health and can lead to many human diseases including spinal muscular atrophy. So it is crucial to know how these RNA-binding proteins affect gene expression.


RNAs can either be decoded by the ribosome to make protein (coding), or act without being decoded, just by itself (non-coding). Many non-coding RNAs are present in neurons and changes in their levels ultimately result in neurodegenerative disease. It is therefore important to understand what non-coding RNAs are doing.


Julie joins the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology as a University Academic Fellow in Pervasive Transcription reflected by her interest in the function and biological impact of RNAs. Julie read Biochemistry at The Queen’s College, Oxford before undertaking a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, on the initiation of mRNA translation. During her first postdoc at the University of California, Berkeley, her work focused on mRNA splicing in the fruit fly. She joins Leeds from her second postdoc at the University of Sussex, where she defined novel regions of translation. She combines biochemistry, genomics, molecular biology and genetics to study RNAs in fruit flies and mammalian tissue culture. The UAF is providing Julie with the opportunity to start her research group and address questions on the regulation of mRNA translation, non-coding RNA function and the role of specific RNA-protein complexes.


In her spare time Julie likes to play sport (squash, hockey), cook, watch sport, travel and, visit museums and art galleries.