Dr Frank Voncken

Dr Frank Voncken

Lecturer in Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Biosafety Practitioner and Advisor

Faculty and Department

  • Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Department of Biomedical Sciences

Qualifications

  • BSc
  • PhD

Summary

Main focus of Dr Voncken’s research as a PhD student (1992-1998) at the University of Nijmegen in The Netherlands was the biochemistry and evolution of Hydrogenosomes. Hydrogenosomes are unique mitochondria-related organelles that are only found in some anaerobic protozoa and fungi. The outcome of his research as a PhD student provided important insights into functional and evolutionary aspects of the compartmentalised energy metabolism in these anaerobic eukaryotic microorganisms and led to the discovery of novel metabolic pathways.

Following the completion of his PhD, Dr Voncken continued his career as a postdoctoral research assistant (1998-2006) in the research group of Professor Christine Clayton at the Centre for Molecular Biology (ZMBH) of the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Initially, Dr Voncken’s research focussed on peroxisome-related organelles aka Glycosomes that are unique to medically important Kinetoplastid parasites such as Trypanosomes brucei and Leishmania.

In 2003, Dr Voncken was awarded a research grant from the ‘Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft’ (DFG) in support of his continued postdoctoral research career as an independent Research Project Leader (Postdoctoral Research Associate) at the ZMBH in Heidelberg. During this time, Dr Voncken continued his research on the remarkable energy metabolism of parasites and the identification and functional characterisation of novel peroxisomal (glycosomal) and mitochondrial metabolic pathways and associated transporters. Later on, his research focussed on in particular Mitochondrial Carrier Family (MCF) proteins, an important group of essential metabolite transporters that mediate the transport of a wide variety of metabolic intermediates across the inner mitochondrial membrane and play a crucial role in the regulation of the energy metabolism in eukaryotic organisms.

Dr Voncken joined the University of Hull in 2006 as a Lecturer in Medical Microbiology and Parasitology and Research Group Leader, continueing his research on mitochondrial metabolite transporters from medically important human parasites.

In addition to his academic and research roles, Dr Voncken is further the Biology Safety Officer for the University of Hull (since 2011).

Undergraduate

Dr Frank Voncken has professional teaching experience at all undergraduate (BSc) and postgraduate (MSc, PhD) levels and in a wide range of Biomedical and Forensic Sciences subject areas, including General Microbiology, Medical Microbiology, Molecular and Medical Parasitology, Infectious Diseases, Immunology, Molecular Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Genetics, Proteomics, Human and Microbial Physiology, Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Biomedical Research Skills and Forensic DNA Fingerprint Analysis.

Within the Department of Biomedical and Forensic Sciences, Dr Voncken currently contributes to the teaching of several modules and is the module leader for 400478 Microbiology and Immunology and 601123 Molecular and Medical Parasitology.

Recent outputs

View more outputs

Journal Article

The mitochondrial phosphate carrier TbMCP11 is essential for mitochondrial function in the procyclic form of Trypanosoma brucei

Gao, F., Voncken, F., & Colasante, C. (2020). The mitochondrial phosphate carrier TbMCP11 is essential for mitochondrial function in the procyclic form of Trypanosoma brucei. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 237, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molbiopara.2020.111275

Characterisation of a mitochondrial iron transporter of the pathogen Trypanosoma brucei

Zheng, F., Colasante, C., & Voncken, F. (2019). Characterisation of a mitochondrial iron transporter of the pathogen Trypanosoma brucei. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 233, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molbiopara.2019.111221

A plant-like mitochondrial carrier family protein facilitates mitochondrial transport of di- and tricarboxylates in Trypanosoma brucei

Colasante, C., Zheng, F., Kemp, C., & Voncken, F. (2018). A plant-like mitochondrial carrier family protein facilitates mitochondrial transport of di- and tricarboxylates in Trypanosoma brucei. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 221, 36-51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molbiopara.2018.03.003

The phosphoarginine energy-buffering system of Trypanosoma brucei is essential and involves multiple arginine kinase isoforms with different subcellular locations.

Voncken, F., Gao, F., Wadforth, C., Harley, M., & Colasante, C. (2013). The phosphoarginine energy-buffering system of Trypanosoma brucei is essential and involves multiple arginine kinase isoforms with different subcellular locations. PloS one, 8(6), e65908. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0065908

Proteins and lipids of glycosomal membranes from Leishmania tarentolae and Trypanosoma brucei

Colasante, C., Voncken, F., Manful, T., Ruppert, T., Tielens, A. G. M., van Hellemond, J. J., & Clayton, C. (2013). Proteins and lipids of glycosomal membranes from Leishmania tarentolae and Trypanosoma brucei. F1000Research, 2, 0 - 0. https://doi.org/10.3410/f1000research.2-27.v1

Research interests

(1) The energy metabolism of medically important eukaryotic parasites causing detrimental human disease, such as African Sleeping Sickness (Trypanosoma brucei), Malaria (Plasmodium) and Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii).

(2) The compartmentalisation of energy-generating and other metabolic pathways in unusual subcellular organelles such as hydrogenosomes, glycosomes, apicoplasts and the 'degenerated' mitochondria found in medically important human parasites.

(3) The identification and functional characterisation of mitochondrial metabolite transporters, here Mitochondrial Carrier Family (MCF) proteins, from parasites and other eukaryotes.

(4) The identification of novel drug targets and the development of effective chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of parasitic human diseases.

Journal editorial role

Academic Editor for PLOS ONE

2013