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Durham University

Biophysical Sciences Institute

BSI Thesis Prize

This annual prize celebrates Durham University’s excellent interdisciplinary Postgraduate Students. The prize focusses on students who have applied creativity and initiative to their research, particularly those who have driven the research far beyond expectations. The assessment takes into account the excellence of the science included in the nominee’s thesis as well as their development as a researcher with the skills and breadth of knowledge needed for interdisciplinary research.

About the BSI Thesis Prize

Who is Eligible?

Nominees must have submitted their theses during the academic year June 2018-June 2019 and have been postgraduate students at Durham University (their degrees must be awarded by Durham University). A large portion of the nominee’s research must be cross-disciplinary at the boundaries between the life sciences and other physical sciences including mathematical sciences and engineering.

What is the Prize?

The prize consists of a £500 payment and prize certificate. The presentation of the prize will be made at the BSI’s annual Summer Research Showcase to be held towards the end of the summer term or at a similar key event in the BSI calendar.

How to make a nomination

Please make nominations by email to

Nominations must include:

  • Abstract of thesis
  • Letter of support (limited to one page)
  • At least two expert reports from outside of the supervisory team e.g. Examiners’ report
  • List of publications and presentations associated with the nominee’s thesis (if not included in letter of support)
  • Nominee’s CV.

Closing Date

Nominations for 2019 are now closed.


Evaluation of the nominations will take into account:

  • Outstanding performance of the student and their development as a researcher.
  • Impact on the field of research as evidenced by the nominees publications and presentations, as well as the external expert reports.
  • Quality of the cross-disciplinary aspect of the research, in particular, was the approach relevant and well considered.

2018: Diana Gimenez-Ibanez

Thesis title: Exploring the applications of fluorine for peptoid structure induction (PhD supervisor Dr Steven Cobb, Department of Chemistry).

2019: Jasmine Cross

Thesis Title: Synthesis and analysis of pseudo-octahedral metal complexes as anticancer agents

Summary: Metal complexes are of interest as drug candidates as they provide advantages over purely organic systems via modular synthesis, variable geometries and oxidation states.
Alternatives to existing platinum based anticancer therapeutics are being sought to overcome increased resistance in the treatment of solid tumours and their high levels of toxicity towards healthy cells. Three novel pseudo-octahedral metal complex series were synthesised and analysed as potential anticancer agents; each series utilising a distinct mechanism of action. The bulk of this thesis focusses on histone deacetylase (HDAC) enzymes as discrete targets for anticancer therapy. Over fourteen of the ruthenium based complexes synthesised exhibited higher levels of cytotoxicity towards cancer cells compared to their purely organic counterparts, alongside displaying higher levels of HDAC enzyme inhibition. Biological assays including cellular uptake, HDAC enzyme isoform selectivity, DNA binding and uptake mechanism are reported to thoroughly examine the varied behaviour of these complexes...

Biography: Jasmine graduated with an MChem (First Class Hons) undergraduate degree from the University of Huddersfield in 2014, before completing her PhD at Durham University under the supervision of Dr James Walton in 2018. Jasmine is currently employed at the University of Huddersfield (soon to be relocated to the University of Strathclyde) as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant working on a project which focuses on drug development to treat World Health Organisation priority pathogens. Her research interests include synthetic chemistry, chemical biology and medicinal chemistry.

For further details, please see here.

The BSI Community

"The BSI is a community of interdisciplinary academics, researchers and students who have research interests at the boundary between the life sciences and the other sciences including physics, chemistry and psychology, as well as mathematics and engineering."

- Steven Cobb, BSI Director.