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Low density lipoprotein oxidation and atherosclerosis

   School of Biological Sciences

Reading United Kingdom Biochemistry Cell Biology Pathology

About the Project

The research in Professor David Leake’s group is concerned with atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of coronary heart disease and strokes. We are investigating how low density lipoprotein (LDL), which carries most of the cholesterol in blood, is oxidised (i.e. becomes ‘rancid’) and the damaging effects that oxidised LDL has on arterial cells. Atherosclerotic lesions are inflammatory sites and contain many macrophages. We have shown that LDL is oxidised within lysosomes in macrophages and that this oxidation is catalysed by iron at the lysosomal pH of 4.5. The ultimate aim is to use antioxidants targeted to lysosomes in humans to prevent atherosclerosis.

School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading:

The University of Reading, located west of London, England, provides world-class research education programs. The University’s main Whiteknights Campus is set in 130 hectares of beautiful parkland, a 30-minute train ride to central London and 40 minutes from London Heathrow airport.

Our School of Biological Sciences conducts high-impact research, tackling current global challenges faced by society and the planet. Our research ranges from understanding and improving human health and combating disease, through to understanding evolutionary processes and uncovering new ways to protect the natural world. In 2020, we moved into a stunning new ~£60 million Health & Life Sciences building. This state-of-the-art facility is purpose-built for science research and teaching. It houses the Cole Museum of Zoology, a café and social spaces.

In the School of Biological Sciences, you will be joining a vibrant community of ~180 PhD students representing ~40 nationalities. Our students publish in high-impact journals, present at international conferences, and organise a range of exciting outreach and public engagement activities. During your PhD at the University of Reading, you will expand your research knowledge and skills, receiving supervision in one-to-one and small group sessions. You will have access to cutting-edge technology and learn the latest research techniques. We also provide dedicated training in important transferable skills that will support your career aspirations. If English is not your first language, the University's excellent International Study and Language Institute will help you develop your academic English skills. The University of Reading is a welcoming community for people of all faiths and cultures. We are committed to a healthy work-life balance and will work to ensure that you are supported personally and academically.


Applicants should have a good degree (minimum of a UK Upper Second (2:1) undergraduate degree or equivalent) in Biomedical Sciences, Biological Sciences or a strongly-related discipline. Applicants will also need to meet the University’s English Language requirements. We offer pre-sessional courses that can help with meeting these requirements.

How to apply:

Submit an application for a PhD in Biological Sciences at .

Further information:


Wen, Y. & Leake, D.S. (2007) Circ. Res. 100, 1337-1343. Low density lipoprotein undergoes
oxidation within lysosomes in cells

Satchell, L. & Leake, D.S. (2012) Biochemistry 51, 3767-3775. Oxidation of low-density lipoprotein
by iron at lysosomal pH: Implications for atherosclerosis

Ahmad, F. & Leake, D.S. (2018) Chem. Phys. Lipids 213, 13-24. Antioxidants inhibit low density
lipoprotein oxidation less at lysosomal pH: A possible explanation as to why the clinical trials of
antioxidants might have failed

Please see Prof David Leake’s academic profile:
Please see Prof David Leake's academic profile:

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