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).