School of Chemistry

Biological Chemistry

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.

Member of staff carrying out research in a lab


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

Super Spider Silk Scaffolds 

The Thomas group collaborating with Dr Sara Goodacre’s SpiderLab in Life Sciences at Nottingham have produced recombinant spider silk with un-natural amino acids that can easily be modified using ‘click’ reactions to give new biomaterials with anti-bacterial properties.Image of a spider-web

As spider silk has been shown to be well tolerated by mammalian cells and also possess high tensile strength, elasticity and flexibility it provides an ideal scaffold for a range of healthcare applications. 

Find out more

Combating Campylobacter jejuni infections in poultry farming

The Soultanas group working with collaborators in Life Sciences and industrial partners Banham Poultry and Akeso Biomedical have demonstrated that Q-PLEXTM / TYPLEX (Iron complex) food additives have potent anti-bacterial activity as they prevent the bacteria, Campylobacter jejuni binding to the chicken’s GI tract and causing subsequent infection.

Recent publications

Mechanism of intersubunit ketosynthase-​dehydratase interaction in polyketide synthases,
Jenner, Matthew; Kosol, Simone; Griffiths, Daniel; Prasongpholchai, Panward; Manzi, Lucio; Barrow, Andrew S.; Moses, John E.; Oldham, Neil J.; Lewandowski, Jozef R.; Challis, Gregory L.,
Nature Chemical Biology (2018), 14(3), 270-275. 

Examining the role of protein structural dynamics in drug resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis,
Shaw, Daniel J.; Hill, Rachel E.; Simpson, Niall; Husseini, Fouad S.; Robb, Kirsty; Greetham, Gregory M.; Towrie, Michael; Parker, Anthony W.; Robinson, David; Hirst, Jonathan D.; Hoskisson, Paul A.; Hunt, Neil T. Chemical Science (2017), 8(12), 8384-8399.

Continuous flow biocatalysis: production and in-line purification of amines by immobilised transaminase from Halomonas elongata,
PlanchestainerMatteo; Contente, Martina L.; Cassidy, Jennifer; Molinari, Francesco; Tamborini, Lucia; Paradisi, Francesca,
Green Chem (2017), 19(2), 372 

Antibiotic Spider Silk: Site-​Specific Functionalization of Recombinant Spider Silk Using "Click" Chemistry, Harvey, David; Bardelang, Philip; Goodacre, Sara L.; Cockayne, Alan; Thomas, Neil R.
Advanced Materials (Weinheim, Germany) (2017), 29(10), 1604245 

Total synthesis of the post-​translationally modified polyazole peptide antibiotic Goadsporin,
Dexter, Hannah L.; Williams, Huw E. L.; Lewis, William; Moody, Christopher J.
Angewandte Chemie, International Edition (2017), 56(11), 3069-3073

ALS-​FTLD associated mutations of SQSTM1 impact on Keap1-​Nrf2 signalling
Goode, Alice; Rea, Sarah; Sultana, Melanie; Shaw, Barry; Searle, Mark S.; Layfield, Robert,
Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience (2016),
76, 52-58.


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

How to apply




School of Chemistry

University Park Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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