School of Chemistry

Biological Chemistry

Biodiscovery Institute Lab

Biological chemistry research at Nottingham involves over 50 researchers actively engaged in the use of analytical, computational and synthetic chemistry methods, together with those in molecular and structural biology to investigate, disrupt and harness a wide range of biological systems from single peptides and proteins through to bacteria, plants and higher animals.

We occupy state of the art laboratories containing key equipment including high field (800 MHz) solid and solution state NMR; FT-ICR, MALDI, ESI and other forms of mass spectrometry; circular dichroism and BIACore surface plasmon resonance instruments, dynamic scanning and isothermal calorimeters and X-ray diffractometers as well as access to a managed compound library and High Performance Computing.

Our Research

Chemistry can be employed to investigate and harness the activity of biological systems in a wide variety of different ways and researchers at Nottingham are involved in many of these:

  • NMR, mass spectrometry and a range of other biophysical and computational techniques are being used to understand the importance of protein-ligand(drug) and protein-protein interactions in structural biology
  • In chemical biology studies, mechanistic and imaging probes and inhibitors are being designed and synthesised and evaluated as starting points for drug discovery
  • Enzymes and whole cells are employed as cleaner, greener and more sustainable catalysts for key industrial reactions. These biocatalysts are further optimised by mutagenesis and directed evolution for employment in artificial biosynthetic pathways and in flow reactor systems
  • Synthetic biology and chemical methods are being used to synthesise and modify proteins and peptides for use in smarter drug delivery systems, biopharmaceutics, vaccines and innovative biomaterials
  • Understanding and treating diseases including cancer, tuberculosis, Paget’s bone disease and combating Campylobacter jejuni infections in poultry are current active areas in medicinal chemistry research
Technician using the X-Ray Diffraction machine
Examining enzyme reactions

Researcher in Medicinal Chemistry



Mimicking native display of cd0873 on liposomes augments its potency as an oral vaccine against Clostridioides difficile.

A recent feature paper from Dr Mitchell, in the journal Vaccines.

The HelQ human DNA repair helicase utilizes a PWI-like domain for DNA loading through interaction with RPA, triggering DNA unwinding by the HelQ helicase core

A collaborative publication with the School of Life Sciences from Professor Soultanas, understanding how human cells avoid genome instability provoking cancers.Close-up of a pipette

Structural variation of protein-ligand complexes of the first bromodomain of BRD4

A recent publication from Professor Hirst, Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies. 

Site-Selective Modification of Peptides and Proteins via Interception of Free-Radical-Mediated Dechalcogenation

A recent publication in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition from Dr Mitchell and Dr Williams.

Recent Publications

An ALS-associated variant of the autophagy receptor SQSTM1/p62 reprograms binding selectivity towards the autophagy-related hATG8 proteins. Brennan, A., Layfield, R., Long, J., Williams, H., Oldham, N. J., Scott, D., & Searle, M. S. J. Biol. Chem. 2022, 298(2), 101514.

Machine-learning-enabled virtual screening for inhibitors of lysine-specific histone demethylase 1. Zhou, J., Wu, S., Lee, B. G., Chen, T., He, Z., Lei, Y., …Hirst, J. D. Molecules. 2021, 26(24), 7492. 

New InhA Inhibitors Based on Expanded Triclosan and Di-Triclosan Analogues to Develop a New Treatment for Tuberculosis. Chetty, S., Armstrong, T., Sharma Kharkwal, S., Drewe, W. C., De Matteis, C. I., Evangelopoulos, D., …Thomas, N. R. Pharmaceuticals. 2021, 14(4), 361.

Iridoid Sex Pheromone Biosynthesis in Aphids Mimics Iridoid‐Producing Plants. Partridge, S. J., Withall, D. M., Caulfield, J. C., Pickett, J. A., Stockman, R. A., Oldham, N. J., & Birkett, M. A. Chem. Eur. J. 2021, 27(25), 7231-7234.

Analysis of insulin glulisine at the molecular level by X-ray crystallography and biophysical techniques.       Gillis, R. B., Solomon, H. V., Govada, L., Oldham, N. J., Dinu, V., Jiwani, S. I., …Adams, G. G. Sci. Rep. 2021, 11(1). 1737.

A community resource for paired genomic and metabolomic data mining. Schorn, M. A., Verhoeven, S., Ridder, L., Huber, F., Acharya, D. D., Aksenov, A. A., O'Neill, E., …van der Hooft, J. J. J. Nat. Chem. Bio. 202117, 363-368.

Insights from semi-oriented EPR spectroscopy studies into the interaction of lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases with cellulose. Ciano, L., Paradisi, A., Hemsworth, G. R., Tovborg, M., Davies, G. J., & Walton, P. H. Dalton Trans. 2020, 49(11), 3413-3422.

Image-guided neural activity manipulation with a paramagnetic drug. Bricault, S., Barandov, A., Harvey, P., DeTienne, E., Hai, A., & Jasanoff, A. Nat Commun. 2020, 11(1),136.  


Postgraduate research

    The Biological Chemistry theme members welcome applications from students with Masters level qualifications in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biotechnology and related subjects for PhD positions in:
    • Biocatalysis

    • Biomaterials

    • Biosynthesis

    • Chemical, Structural and Synthetic Biology

    • Computational Chemistry applied to biological systems

    • Protein Engineering

    • Mechanistic Enzymology

    • Nanobiotechnology

    • Biophysics

    • Medicinal Chemistry

    • Drug Discovery

Chemistry PhD/MRes

How to Apply

Postgraduate Funding

Student in the Biodiscovery lab



School of Chemistry

University Park Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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