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Dr Hui Lu is a Lecturer in Bioscience in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Function in the School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, the University of Manchester (UoM).

Hui did her PhD study in Chemistry on protein folding at Oxford University (with Professor Christ M Dobson) after her undergraduate and master studies in Jilin University, China. After her PhD, she worked in Imperial College, University College London (UCL), and UoM as a post-doctoral researcher. In 2013, she was awarded a prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship to establish her own research group on mitochondrial protein biogenesis and function. Now, she teaches Biochemistry core modules, including Proteins lectures and Biochemistry research skill model to undergraduate students, and supervises research projects for master and PhD students. Her research interest is wide, including protein function and quality control of mitochondrial proteins; oxidative folding of industrially or pharmaceutically important proteins; and more recently she started to study the potential applications of 2D materials graphene oxide in biomaterials for tissue engineering and antimicrobials.

Research interests

Function and quality control of mitochondrial proteins

Mitochondria are critically important organelles of eukaryotic cells, which regulates a wide range of cellular functions, from cell survival and growth to cell death. Mitochondrial dysfunction leads to life threatening diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, stroke, and various neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, mitochondrial protein homeostasis, biogenesis and function are highly regulated, and the mitochondrial proteome undergoes constant re-sculpting in response to the changing demands of the cells. To this end, her research focuses on understanding: (i) the function mitochondrial AAA (ATPase Associated with a variety of Activities) proteases, especially i-AAA protease Yme1; and (ii) the mechanism of the mitochondrial import and assemble (MIA) pathway, the Mia40-Erv1 system.

Oxidative folding of industrially and pharmaceutically important recombinant proteins

Disulphide bond formation is one of the most common and important post-translational modifications found in proteins. Thus, oxidative protein folding (protein folding and disulphide bond formation) is important for function and stability of many proteins. In vivo, disulphide bond formation is catalysed by dedicated oxidoreductase systems in specialized compartments (e.g. PDI in the ER, Mia40-Erv1 system in mitochondria).

Oxidative protein folding is a challenging process and often a key problem of recombinant protein production in vitro.  In collaboration with Dr Anil Day, Dr Lu is interested in study oxidative protein folding of industrially and pharmaceutically important recombinant proteins, for example, TGF-β (Transforming Growth Factor beta) proteins. TGF-βs are multifunctional cytokines, belonging to the transforming growth factor superfamily, and plays an important regulatory role in the differentiation of tissues and cells, and can stimulate or inhibit the proliferation of various cells. Structurally, TGF-βs are dimers linked via an intermolecular disulphide bond with each monomer folded in a cysteine knot conformation stabilised by three intramolecular disulphide bonds. Thus, it is no surprise that recombinant production of TGF-β native proteins is difficult and limited by protein misfolding and aggregation. We are interested in to purify these recombinant proteins, and investigate the effects of mutants on the oxidative folding of the proteins. These will allow us to understand the mechanism of the folding pathway, and thus enhance the production of the functional proteins.

Bio-applications of 2D materials graphene oxidised

Graphene and graphene-related materials have attracted huge attention in recent years due to their unique and outstanding properties and a wide range of potential applications. Graphene oxide (GO) has great potential in biomedicine such as drug delivery, tissue engineering, imaging and biosensors because of its biocompatibility and the presence of various functional groups allowing GO to be further functionalised, conjugated or immobilised with other molecules or nanoparticles. In addition, GO is an effective bactericidal agent against different superbugs, and has antiviral activity. In collaboration with Prof Ping Xiao, School of Material Science, we have recently developed a new method to synthesize different sized GOs at a better quality than that of commonly used methods (Sim, Xiao, and Lu, 2021 Carbon). Now, we are interested in investigating how different sized GOs affect the performance of GO-biomaterials composites, how they interact with cells and biomolecules. In collaboration with Dr Shiu-Wan Chan, we are interested in understanding the mechanisms of GO’s antimicrobial property. In collaboration with Dr Stephen Richardson, we are interested in exploring GO’s potential as fillers for biomaterials reinforcement and/or carriers of biological factor delivery for meniscus tissue engineering. 



Master, MPhil, and PhD projects are available all year round for motivated, self-funded students.

For more information about projects, please contact 

Dr Hui Lu, Tel: 0161 275 1553; Email:

For general information about MPhil/PhD study and application, please visit PhD/MPhil Biochemistry (2023 entry) | The University of Manchester


BSc, MSc, PhD

My collaborations

Professor Chris Grant, Division of Molecular & Cellular Function;

Professor Simon Hubbard, Division of Evolution, Infection and Genomics;  

Dr Anil Day, Division of Molecular & Cellular Function;  

Dr Steve Prince, Division of Molecular & Cellular Function;

Professor Ping Xiao, Department of Materials and Henry Royce Institute;

Dr Shiu-Wan Chan, Division of Evolution, Infection and Genomics;

Dr Stephen Richardson, Division of Cell Matrix Biology & Regenerative Medicine;



UG 2nd Year Course Lecturer BIOL21111 Proteins

Teaching of UG 2nd Year Biochemistry Research Skill Module (RSM)

Biochemistry UG Tutorials (1st and 2nd years)

Final Year Project Students (Lab-based, Bioinformatics)

MSci Research Project students (3rd and 4th years)

Master Research Project students (Lab-based, Bioinformatics)

Replacement Students

The academic lead of Biosciences International Summer School (Bio-SISS)

RSM teaching for Bio-SISS

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Science


  • Mitochondrial protein biogenesis
  • Protein folding and function
  • Thiol-disulphide redox regulation
  • Mitochondrial protein quality control
  • Graphene oxide
  • Biomaterials


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