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Department of Chemistry

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Research looks at metals' roles in reactions of life

Nearly half of the reactions of life are driven by metals. Now a multidisciplinary collaboration between ten Durham University Bioscientists and Chemists has discovered how living cells are attuned to these vital elements.

This knowledge will assist in the engineering of metal supply to metalloenzymes for use in industrial biotechnology. It will support the development of bioactive compounds that subvert metal-handling inside microbes in order to replenish the dwindling arsenal of antimicrobial treatments.

The research has been published in Nature Chemical Biology.

(7 Feb 2017) » More about Research looks at metals' roles in reactions of life

Front Cover from Ehmke Pohl's Chile Collaboration

In an international collaboration with Chile, Dr Ehmke Pohl has developed a new bio-informatics tool aimed at molecular biologist and synthetic chemist who want to investigate the effect of amino-acid changes in the protein chain of a protein with known structure. The programs not only presents a homology model that can be downloaded but also a detailed analysis of the electrostatic potential in order to allow the user to evaluate local as well as global changes caused by the residues exchange. The front cover is at

along with a link to the study.

(27 Jan 2017)

Prof Beeby's Mappa Mundi investigation

Early January, Team-Pigment visited Hereford Cathedral to analyse the pigments used in the world famous Mappa Mundi which dates back to ca. 1300. This stylised world map is usually on display at the Cathedral, and the Durham/Northumbria team was given special permission to study it for three days. The team, shown below (Gamerson, Beeby (Durham) and Nicholson (Northumbria), used Raman and reflectance spectroscopies to determine for the first time some of the materials used to colour the map.

(18 Jan 2017)

Christmas Glassblowing Success at Durham

Our two very talented glassblowers, Aaron Brown and Malcolm Richardson, gave live glassblowing demonstrations at a very successful RSC christmas event in December. For more details, see

(17 Jan 2017)

Low cost synthesis of Flucytosine at Durham

Research between the Durham Fluorine group (Professor Graham Sandford) and industrial collaborators Sanofi-Aventis and MEPI in France, funded by the European Union Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI; has led to a new, more efficient way of producing flucytosine, a WHO essential medicine used to treat a common and often deadly fungal form of meningitis in people with HIV / AIDS. Professor Graham Sandford and PhD student Antal Harsanyi (both shown in photograph) carried out the flucytosine synthesis at Durham.

(2 Feb 2017) » More about Low cost synthesis of Flucytosine at Durham

Research into contrast agents on Serbian TV

Research by Professor David Parker into the research and development of contrast agents, which are extremely useful in clinical diagnosis, has featured on Serbian TV.

Professor Parker was interviewed by Serbian TV RTS2, at an international conference held in Belgrade at the end of September.

Commenting on his research, Professor Parker said:

"We are studying systems which are mainly used in magnetic resonance tomography. This is a technique that doctors use to aid diagnosis of disease. Many people are subjected to such scans in hospitals, and radiologists working with the doctors, explore the patient's body, by observing the water signal in the body. We are engaged in developing new chemical systems from scratch, and they will also be able to be observed during magnetic resonance imaging.

(5 Dec 2016) » More about Research into contrast agents on Serbian TV

Adams Poster Prizewinners 2016

Congratulations to Gemma Parker (1st prize), Andrei Markin (2nd) and Natalie Mitchell (3rd) in winning the D.B. Adams Poster prizes. These awards, inaugurated in 2014, are made annually in memory of Dr David Brinley Adams (Durham: BSc, 1967 – 1970, PhD, 1970 – 1973, Senior Demonstrator, 1973 – 1975) in recognition of academic excellence in the MChem poster competition.

(16 Nov 2016)

James Lewis awarded Poster Prize

Congratulations to James Lewis from John Evans’ group who won the poster prize at the joint meeting of the UK neutron diffraction user group, the Structural Condensed Matter group of the Institute of Physics and the Physical Crystallography Group of the British Crystallographic Association in the first week of November. James’ poster described his research on using group theoretical methods to automatically investigate possible structures of inorganic functional materials. 

(2 Nov 2016) » More about James Lewis awarded Poster Prize