Ben JohnsonMagazine Editor, Nature Medicine, Springer Nature
- Springer Nature
- United Kingdom
About Ben Johnson
I trained as a virologist, starting with an undergraduate degree in virology from the University of Warwick, UK. My PhD, in influenza virus genetics and immunoevasion, was from Public Health England and the University of Reading, UK, with Maria Zambon and Wendy Barclay. My research interests then moved to smallpox vaccines, viral ion channels and cell adhesion, while a postdoc at Imperial College London with Geoffrey Smith, FRS. I then joined open-access publisher BioMed Central in 2011 as an editor and then associate publisher and was Head of Communities & Engagement at Springer Nature from 2016, running the Nature Research Communities and other online engagement activities for researchers. I joined Nature Medicine in 2021, with responsibility for news and opinion content, and am based in the London office.
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This is fantastic! A lot of this will be useful for any teacher, not just chemists. I am going to share this far and wide.
I am a fan of the seemingly humble calcium.
I am old enough to remember the little milk bottles we received at school (before Thatcher cut them), which we were given to us as a source of calcium to strengthen our bones. But behind this seemingly simple mineral, calcium has crucial roles in an incredible array of biological processes, including muscle contraction, excitation of neurons, viral infections, and even swimming sperm - all of which are controlled by Ca2+ ion channels.
During the final years of my postdoc I worked on a novel protein that turned out to be a Ca2+ channel and it was incredible to me that such a well-known element can have so many diverse functions in cell biology. This made it very tricky to know what this unknown protein did!
I also love gold, but sadly don’t have much experience with it.
Happy anniversary! What a great first year - with so many Behind the Paper posts...!
I remember our lab using a glycan array to test influenza virus - sialic acid binding back in 2005 - great to see how the technology has moved on!