Patrick Rabe

Case study: Patrick Rabe

Patrick Rabe

Fellowship: Wellcome Career Development Award

Title of the research: Structural insights into O2 activation and dynamics during oxygenase catalysis employing new serial crystallography method development

About the research

My group works in the area of synthetic organic chemistry, biochemistry and spectroscopy with a strong focus on time-resolved serial crystallography. Currently, we are interested in the detailed understanding of O2 dependant reactions responsible for the generation of light, in particular those from Luciferases (responsible for one of the most visually extraordinary effect in nature – bioluminescence). We are interested in the identification of intermediates and dynamics tuning catalysis to allow this remarkable process. We are using these model enzymes to study new tools to rapidly generate O2 for different spectroscopic methods and time-resolved crystallography experiments. Our work is very interdisciplinary and in close collaboration with Diamond Light Source. It provides excellent opportunities for students and researchers to work in a collaborative environment combining organic chemistry, chemical biology, biochemistry and cutting-edge serial crystallography and spectroscopy method development.

How will this fellowship help my career progression?

The Wellcome Career Development Award provides the opportunity to establish my independent research group and idea within the Department of Chemistry in Oxford. The 5 year funded project and the provided resources will allow to establish new skills in the field of synthetic organic chemistry, biochemistry and cutting-edge biophysics. The Wellcome Career Development Award provides funding for my salary, consumables as well as valuable equipment. Furthermore, it provides funding for the salaries of two PDRAs enabling a successful progress of the project. The Wellcome Trust contributes additional know-how including mentoring and training opportunities as well as allows for a scientific exchange with experts to form a collaborative research environment.

The support the University provides

The Department of Chemistry provides support and facilities to establish my independent career. As a Wellcome Investigator, I have the opportunity to apply for studentships from the different doctoral training centres and can apply for internal funding. I am also very grateful for the great support given by colleagues in the department, especially in starting the independent group. Valuable support for grant applications is also provided by research facilitation and finance teams.


I studied chemistry at the University of Braunschweig in Germany. In 2016, I finished my PhD at the Kekulé-Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Bonn on “Mechanistic Studies on Bacterial Terpene Synthases” with Prof. Jeroen S. Dickschat, which was awarded with the 2017 Dechema doctoral award. My passion to understand the details of macromolecular catalysis motivated me to start my postdoctoral research in the group of Prof. Christopher Schofield at the University of Oxford (funded by the Deutsche Akademie für Naturforscher Leopoldina, Germany). I was able to acquire new skills in (time-resolved serial) crystallography and spectroscopy method development with collaborators at Diamond Light Source. Since 2021, I am teaching as part of the SBMCDT biopolymers course at the University of Oxford. In 2023, I was awarded with a Career Development Award by the Wellcome Trust being able to start my independent research group.