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Bioactive Chemistry and Synthesis

The Bioactive Chemistry and Synthesis grouping aims to address a range of exciting challenges at the interface between chemistry and biology.

Members within the Bioactive Chemistry and Synthesis grouping have scientific expertise in a diverse range of areas including; Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Chemical-Biology, Biochemistry, Bio-inorganic Chemistry, and Structural and Analytical Chemistry. Research in the area of Bioactive Chemistry and Synthesis is extremely well supported by state-of-the-art facilities located within the Department. Members of the research grouping are engaged in exciting interdisciplinary projects which are funded through a variety of funding agencies (e.g. EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme Trust, European Commission, the Royal Society, British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and the British Heart Foundation) and via collaboration with industry (e.g. AstraZeneca, GSK, Unilever and Syngenta).

Research Group Leader: Dr Steven Cobb (

Interdisciplinary Research Embedded in the Chemistry Department

Several researchers from both the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (SBBS) and the School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health (SMPH) are located in embedded biology laboratories within the Department of Chemistry. This provides a unique research environment which supports exciting interdisciplinary collaborations at the Chemistry-Biology interface.The following SBBS and SMPH academic staff located in Chemistry and they are affiliate members of the Bioactive Chemistry and Synthesis research grouping : Dr Tim Blower, Dr Martin Cann, Dr Peter Chivers, Dr Paul Denny, Professor Nigel Robinson, Dr Gary Sharples and Dr Paul Yeo.

Members of the Bioactive Chemistry and Synthesis research grouping also work closely with academic staff working within the Biomolecular Interactions research group -

Selected Recent Papers

Nautiyal A, Rani PS, Sharples GJ, Muniyappa K. "Mycobacterium tuberculosis RuvX is a Holliday junction resolvase formed by dimerisation of the monomeric YqgF nuclease domain" (2016) Mol Microbiol. 2016 doi: 10.1111/mmi.13338.

Tim R. Blower, Benjamin H. Williamson, Robert J. Kerns and James M. Berger "Crystal structure and stability of gyrase–fluoroquinolone cleaved complexes from Mycobacterium tuberculosis" (2016) PNAS; published ahead of print January 20, 2016, doi:10.1073/pnas.1525047113

Katie J. Aldred, Tim R. Blower, Robert J. Kerns, James M. Berger and Neil Osheroff "Fluoroquinolone interactions with Mycobacterium tuberculosis gyrase: Enhancing drug activity against wild-type and resistant gyrase" (2016) PNAS; published ahead of print January 20, 2016, doi:10.1073/pnas.1525055113

Bolt HL., Cobb SL."A practical method for the synthesis of peptoids containing both lysine-type and arginine-type monomers" (2016) Org. Biomol. Chem. 14, 1211-1215

Grøftehauge, M.K., Truan, D., Vasil, A., Denny, P.W., Vasil, M.L. & Pohl, E. "Crystal Structure of a Hidden Protein, YcaC, a Putative Cysteine Hydrolase from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, with and without an Acrylamide Adduct." (2015). International Journal of Molecular Sciences 16(7): 15971-15984

Sadler, S. A., Hones, A. C., Roberts, B., Blakemore, D.C., Marder, T. B. & Steel, P.G. "Multidirectional Synthesis of Substituted Indazoles via Iridium-Catalyzed C-H Borylation." (2015). J. Org. Chem., 80(10): 5308-5314

Eggimann, G.A., Bolt, H.L., Denny, P.W. & Cobb, S.L. "Investigating the Anti-leishmanial Effects of Linear Peptoids." (2015) ChemMedChem 10(3): 233-237.

Joubert, F., Yeo, P.R, Sharples, GJ., Musa, Osama M., Hodgson, D.R.W. & Cameron, N.R. "Preparation of an antibacterial poly(ionic liquid) graft copolymer of hydroxyethyl cellulose" (2015) Biomacromolecules 16(12): 3970-3979.

Joubert, F., Sharples, G.J., Musa, Osama M., Hodgson, D.R.W. & Cameron, N.R. "Preparation, properties, and antibacterial behavior of a novel cellulose derivative containing lactam groups" (2015) Journal of Polymer Science Part A: Polymer Chemistry 53(1): 68-78

Baumann, B. & Baxendale, I. R. Batch and Flow Synthesis of Pyrrolo[1,2-a]-quinolines via an Allene-Based Reaction Cascade. (2015). J. Org. Chem., 80(21): 10806-10816.

Christodoulou, M. S., Calogero, F., Baumann, M., García-Argáez, A. N., Pieraccini, S., Sironi, M., Dapiaggi, F., Bucci, R., Broggini, G., Gazzola, S., Liekens, S., Silvani, A., Lahtela-Kakkonen, M., Martinet, N., Nonel-Canals, A., Santamaría-Navarroh, E., Baxendale, I. R., Via, L. D. & Passarell, D. "Boehmeriasin A as new lead compound for the inhibition of Topoisomerases and SIRT2" (2015) European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 92: 766-775

Townsend, P.D. Rodgers, T.L. Glover, L.C. Korhonen, H.J. Richards, S.A. Colwell, L.J. Pohl, E. Wilson, M.R. Hodgson, D.R.W. McLeish, T.C.B. Cann, M.J. "The role of protein-ligand contacts in allosteric regulation of the Escherichia coli Catabolite Activator Protein" (2015) J. Biol. Chem. 2015 290: 22225-22235.

Osman, D. Piergentili, C. Chen, J. Chakrabarti, B. Foster, A. Lurie-Luke, E. Huggins, T. Robinson, N. "Generating a metal-responsive transcriptional regulator to test what confers metal-sensing in cells." (2015) J. Biol. Chem. 290: 19806-19822.

Bioactive Chemistry & Synthesis News

The Pohl group has been awarded an EU grant "Virus-X: Viral Metagenomics for Innovation" - See Vacancies

The Hodgson group has been awarded a BBSRC grant "A Chemo-Enzymatic Approach Towards Gamma-Thio-Nucleoside-5'-Triphosphates". 

Dr Alyssa-Jennifer Avestro joins the Chemistry Department (and the research grouping) as a Royal Commission 1851 fellow.

The Cobb group and Dr Fionnuala Lundy (Centre for Infection and Immunity, Queens University Belfast) have been awarded a grant from the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

The Cann, Sharples and Pålsson groups have been awarded a grant from the BBSRC "The mechanistic basis of plant NLR signalling in effector triggered immunity".

PhD student papers

See the latest papers from PhD students in the grouping - Jasmine Cross (Walton Group), Hannah Bolt (Cobb group), Laura Smith (Baxendale group).

Cross JM, Gallagher N, Gill JH, Jain M, McNeillis AW, Rockley KL, Tscherny FH, Wirszycz NJ, Yufit DS, and Walton JW "Pyridylphosphinate metal complexes: synthesis, structural characterisation and biological activity" Dalton Trans., 2016,45, 12807-12813 

Bolt H.L.; Cobb S.L; "A practical method for the synthesis of peptoids containing both lysine-type and arginine-type monomers" Org. Biomol. Chem., 2016, 14, 12-11-1215.

Smith, L. K.; Baxendale, I. R. "Total syntheses of natural products containing spirocarbocycles" Org. Biomol. Chem. 2015, 13, 9907 -9933.

Early Career Research Fellows

The Bioactive Chemistry and Synthesis research group is keen to support early stage academics and postdoctoral researchers who are looking to start their own independent careers.The grouping can help provide mentorship and support to prepare fellowship applications for the numerous funding schemes available within Durham, the UK and the EU.

For more information about fellowship funding schemes and for initial informal enquiries please contact Dr Steven Cobb (