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Cobb Research Group

Group Members

The Cobb group currently has 7 PhDs, four MChem students (undergraduates), 2 visiting PhD students and one PDRA.

Dr Anica Dose (Sept 2014 - )

I am originally from Germany and studied biochemistry (Diplom) at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University in Greifswald (North East Germany). In 2007 I graduated on “Phytochemical investigations of Mercurialis perennis” in the pharmacy department under supervision of Prof. U. Lindequist. Afterwards I joined the group of Prof. Rudolf K. Allemann at Cardiff University to work on the “Study of sesquiterpene cyclase reaction mechanisms using FPP analogues”. In 2008 I started my Ph.D. studies in technetium HYNIC coordination chemistry for tracing cancer cells at University of Kent in under supervision of Dr. Stefano Biagini and Prof. Phil Blower (KCL). I came to Durham in January 2014, where I had a PDRA position with Prof. Neil Cameron (now Monash University Melbourne) at Durham University on “Polypeptide Nanoparticles for Ocular Drug delivery”. In November 2014, I joined the Cobb group working on perfluoroaromatics and peptide chemistry. In my spare time I enjoy playing tennis and travelling.

Maria Czyzewska (PhD student - writing up)

I am originally from Poland and graduated from the University of Mikołaj Kopernik in Toruń. My main interests are medicinal chemistry and organic synthesis. I previously worked as a summer student on a joint project between Prof. Patrick G. Steel and Prof. Todd B. Marder. I am currently studying towards a PhD in chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Steven Cobb on the development of F19 NMR as a tool for analysing steroid degradation in active urine samples.

Sam Lear (PhD student - writing up)
Originally from Macclesfield in Cheshire, Sam enrolled to study Chemistry at the University of Durham in 2007. He graduated with an MChem in 2011 and carried out a final year project in the research group of Dr Steven Cobb investigating the modification of peptides with light-cleavable groups for use in drug delivery. Returning to Cobb group, Sam completed an MRes research project working towards the total chemical synthesis of monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1/CCL2), and is currently undertaking a PhD with a continuing focus on protein chemical synthesis. Other research interests include the total synthesis of small bioactive peptide targets and the development of novel methods for the production of peptide thioesters for native chemical ligation (NCL) via solid-phase peptide synthesis.

Jingyi Zong (PhD student - writing up)

Originally from Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province in China. Jingyi enrolled to study Chemistry at Wuhan University in 2006 and graduated with an BSc in 2010. In 2010 she joined Prof. Sixue Cheng’s group to continue her master in Wuhan University, focus on development of new biomedical carrier, such as polymer/inorganic hybrid microspheres which can be used in drug delivery. In 2012 she graduated with a MSc and carried out her PhD in Durham university under supervision of Prof. Neil Cameron and Dr. Steven Cobb. Her PhD project mainly focuses on development of stimuli responsive nanoparticles for cancer therapy. Outside the lab, Jingyi like doing sports and cooking.

Hannah Bolt (3rd year PhD student)

Initially from Exeter in Devon, Hannah moved to the other end of the country in 2009 to study Chemistry at the University of Durham. Hannah graduated with an MChem in June 2013, carrying out her final year project in the lab of Dr David Hodgson investigating a novel method for the phosphorylation of nucleosides. She also undertook a summer placement in the Cobb Research Group in 2012 with the Biophysical Sciences Institute aiming to synthesise analogues of the Green Fluorescent Protein chromophore for study using time-resolved spectroscopy. In October 2013 Hannah returned to Durham to start a PhD in the Cobb Group. Outside of the lab, Hannah can often be found on the river as she is a keen rower and also enjoys sewing and walking her dog in her spare time.

Alex Webster (3rd Year PhD student)

Alex grew up in Loughborough and started studying for an MChem at Durham University in 2009. Having worked in the Cobb group over summer 2012, Alex carried on working in the Cobb group for her final year research project on the synthesis of a novel amino acid and graduated from Durham in June 2013. Outside the lab, Alex is a keen rugby fan having played for the Durham University women's first team through her undergraduate years and supporting Leicester Tigers.

Caitlin Mooney (2nd year PhD student)

I was born and raised in Greenock, near Glasgow and enrolled in the University of Glasgow in September 2009 studying Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry. In 2012 I started a 9 month Erasmus placement in Utrecht, The Netherlands under the supervision of Dr Nathaniel Martin. The work carried out by my colleagues and myself during this time resulted in the publication of my first article in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry titled " Oseltamivir Analogues Bearing N-Substituted Guanidines as Potent Neuraminidase Inhibitors". After my placement year, I returned to Glasgow and carried out my final year project under the supervision of Dr Richard Hartley. I graduated from the University of Glasgow with an MSci in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry with European Placement in June 2014. Outside of the lab, I like to pretend I am an avid runner, completing my first (and most probably my last) half marathon in Edinburgh this year. I enjoy most sports and I am excited to try rowing whilst at Durham.

Diana Giménez (2nd year PhD student)

I am from Valencia, Spain. I was graduated at the University of Valencia with a BSc. in Chemistry. I joined the Department of Organic Chemistry, at the same institution, where I worked on a research project directed by Dr. Asensio Aguilar. The project focused on the effects of fluorine and trifluoromethyl groups on the antibacterial activity of short cationic penta-peptides. In 2006 I earned the Advanced Studies Diploma (MSc. degree) and I became a member in the research group of Dr. Salgado Benito, at the Institute for Molecular Science. I worked on understanding the interfacial properties of different minimal active domains of proteins of the Bcl-2 family, mainly from Bax and Bcl-xL, that are pro-death and pro-survival factors known to be involved in cell apoptosis regulation. Outside the lab you can find me, almost for sure, buying books (I like them all, it doesn´t matter very much what are they about) or buying plants. I love anything related to gardening. I have one million plants and flowers all over around at home and I like to take care of them one by one. It makes me feel great to see them grow slowly and finally bloom. I find the process fascinating. I also love animals, unfortunately I cannot have as many of them as I would like.

Visiting PhD students

Laura Ferreras - Originally from Nancy, France, Laura enrolled to study Biology at Henri Poincare University in 2008 and graduated with a Bachelor Degree in 2011. In summer 2011 she moved to south east France to do her Master Degree in Lyon, carrying out her final year project in the laboratory of Dr Michel Ovize to assess the deacetylation of the mitochondrial Cyclophilin D in ischemia reperfusion injuries. She graduated in 2013 and worked as a researcher assistant with Dr Caroline Reynaud. In September 2014, Laura became a Marie Curie fellow at Newcastle University to study the role of Heparan Sulphate sulfation in chronic renal fibrosis. She is currently doing her first secondment in the research group of Steven Cobb and Ehmke Pohl with a focus on peptide synthesis and Surface Plasmon Resonance.


Beatriz Martinez Burgo. Originally from León, in the northwest of Spain, Beatriz studied Biotechnology at University of León. For her last BSc year, in 2012, she decided to enrol at Central Connecticut State University, USA. In September 2012, she started her MSc in Biochemistry and Biomedicine at Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. There, she joined Dr Mar Valés-Gómez group to work in immune response against metastatic melanoma as part of her Final Master Project, at National Centre of Biotechnology-CSIC. Currently a 1st year Marie Curie PhD student, based at Newcastle University, she is doing a secondment at Durham University in Dr S. Cobb and Dr E. Pohl research groups, to study the development and function of chemokine mutants in modulating inflammation right after transplantation. Aside from academia, she enjoys swimming, running, travelling or listening to TED talks.

Current undergraduate project students

Melissa Kirkland-Swann (MChem, Durham)

Zack Burgess-Whal (MChem, Durham)

Charlie Tomlinson (with Prof N. Robinson, MChem, Durham)

Sophia Schwartz (visiting ERASMUS student, Berlin)

Recent Conferences

Sam and Caitlin attend the Belgian Peptide Meeting (Feb 2016)

Steven and Sam attend the 5th International Meeting on Antimicrobial Peptides in London (Sept 2015)

Steven presents the groups work at the 9th Peptoid Summit at the National Labs Berkley (Aug 2015)

Sam attends the American Peptide Society meeting in Orlando (July 2015)

Hannah and Lucas present at the RSC Bioorganic Postgraduate meeting in Bristol (May 2015)

We host the RSC Fluorine Postgraduate meeting in Durham (April 2015)