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Professor David Weinkove


Professor in the Department of Biosciences


C. elegans research lab

The Worm

We study the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. This model system provides controlled conditions and large numbers of animals to understand basic biological processes such as ageing and host:microbe interactions using genetics, biochemistry and microscopy. 

Bacteria and Ageing

Animals have co-evolved with microbes, so understanding these interactions is vital to understanding animal biology. The human gut microbiota is an area of intense study but it is difficult to do controlled experiments

In the lab, C. elegans is cultured with the live bacteria Escherichia coli as a food source. We study both E. coli and C. elegans to understand this animal: microbe interaction.

Inhibiting folate synthesis in E. coli slows ageing in C. elegans without slowing the growth of the bacteria or the worm. E. coli synthesises more folate than it needs for growth and we think that this excess folate does something in the bacteria that causes the bacteria to accelerate ageing of the animal.

We are testing this hypothesis, investigating molecular mechanisms and exploring relevance to human microbiota and health.

Folic acid supplements

We have found that folic acid, the synthetic compound used to prevent folate deficiency is taken up by C. elegans via E. coli, in a pathway that relies of folic acid breakdown. We found that folic acid supplements contain breakdown products that would allow this path to be taken in humans. Blog

Automated analysis of ageing

Together with Chris Saunter we have invented a way to automate measurements of healthspan in many large populations of worms simultaneously. We organised an international workshop in this field and we have started a spinout company called Magnitude Biosciences to test drugs and other interventions to prolong healthspan

Making therapeutic proteins

In another project, we are using C. elegans to make recombinant proteins from parasitic nematodes that could be used to treat diseases of the immune system such as asthma or rheumatoid arthritis. The intention is to enable translation to a therapy and reduce the use of lab rodents. See video 

Current lab members (in order of appearance)

David Weinkove (Twitter: @dweinkove, appearance at Bright Club NEHow to pronounce Weinkove (courtesy of cousin Ben))

Adelaide Raimundo

Sushmita Maitra

Giulia Zavagno

Hannah Raddings

Past lab members (other than 3rd year undergraduate project students)

Andrea Bender, Marjanne Bourgois, James Pauw, Nikolin Oberleitner, Gonçalo Correia, Natasha Chetina, Inna Feyst, Harry Blandy, Marta Cipinska, David Bradley, Shona Lee, Noel Helliwell, Jie JiaRazan Bakheet, Daniel Weintraub, Bhupinder Virk, Lucy Lancaster, Zoe Walmsley, Giulia Zavagno, Claire Maynard, Fiona Hair, Kasia Zmarzly, Craig Manning, James Groombridge.

Research interests

  • C. elegans
  • E. coli
  • Ageing
  • Host:microbe interactions
  • Microbial folates

Esteem Indicators

  • 2022: Chair of The British Society for Research on Ageing: Appointed Chair of The British Society for Research on Ageing


Chapter in book

Journal Article

Other (Print)

Supervision students