Contact details

Role: Stipendiary Lecturer in Biochemistry


Photograph of Julie Xiao


I joined Lady Margret Hall as a Stipendiary Lectureship in Biochemistry in September 2020. I give weekly tutorials to first-year Biochemistry undergraduates on topics in cellular and molecular biochemistry as well as some more specialist topics to second and third-year students. I also provide pastoral supervision and mentorship to the biochemistry students and some graduate students in the related field of research.

I graduated from Oxford in 2014 studying Biochemistry and went on completed my D.Phil. degree with Professor Alain Townsend at Weatherall Institute of Molecular Science. We developed and validated a new safe-working model of Ebola, a pseudotyped virus that behaves similarly to the Ebola virus without being infectious. Using this model, we were learning the basic biology of virus entry, as well as screening for approved drugs to be repurposed for Ebola infection treatments. An unusual phenomenon we observed is that many approved drugs in the market have inhibited Ebola virus infection in vitro, but the mechanisms remain unknown. In collaboration with Professor David Stuart, we investigated the interaction of different drugs directly binding drugs to the virus protein by structural biology approach. With our collaborators in the Department of Pharmacology, we looked at the role of lysosomal membrane and calcium in virus entry and inhibitor mechanisms. 

Research Interests

I hope to translate my research into the improvement in people’s health directly. I regard David Weatherall as an example of a profoundly respected and loved clinician, and a great scientist who has made very significant contributions to science and patient care. Therefore, I decided to study Medicine and be trained as a medical doctor, and I am currently a Graduate-entry Medicine student. This training will allow me to apply scientific knowledge to benefit people’s health concretely. Moreover, I believe the understanding of diseases from working in the clinic and contacting with patients, will give direction and insight to my future development in medical research. My long-term aim is to become a specialist in infectious diseases and to apply my research experience to improve world health. 

During the global pandemic, our lab developed a simple and quick serological test: Haemagglutination (HAT) assay, based on the Coombs test. I have validated the test using a set of convalescent plasma in collaboration with Public Health England and compared our result with the neutralisation assay and other assays. Because of my clinical training, I was able to bridge the lab’s pre-clinical research to a research clinic, where we are now sampling venous and finger-prick blood to compare the antibody titres in the HAT assay.  


I have a great interest in teaching and am enthusiastic to bring my experience forward to inspire more Biochemistry students at Lady Margret Hall. On one hand, I aim to guide the students in gaining a good foundation of knowledge in different fields of Biochemistry. On the other hand, I focus on inspiring their enthusiasm to the topics, changing from a school facts-learning style to an exploration of the research and techniques that contribute to our current understanding, developing their ability towards being an independent scientist.