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Staff Profile

Dr Paul Denny, BSc (Hons), PhD

Associate Professor in the Department of Biosciences
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43983
Room number: 163
Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43983

Contact Dr Paul Denny (email at


Protozoan parasites are the causative agents of a wide range of important human and animal diseases, including malaria. Current work in Paul's laboratory is focused on furthering the understanding of the role of lipid biosynthesis and membrane trafficking in host-pathogen interactions, with a view to elucidating protozoan specific activities amenable to therapeutic intervention. Previous to his appointment in 2004 Paul worked in research posts at Imperial College London and at the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research.

1. Mapping the apicomplexan sphingolipid biosynthetic pathway (with Dr Ehmke Pohl)

2. Targeting protozoan sphingolipid biosynthesis (with Dr Patrick Steel)

3. Antimicrobial peptides as antileishmanials (with Dr Steven Cobb)


Research Groups

Department of Biosciences

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Research Interests

  • Cell Biology
  • Lipid Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Parasitology


Journal Article

  • Armitage, E.G., Alqaisi, A.Q.I., Godzien, J., Pena, I., Mbekeani, A.J., Alsonso-Herranz, V., Lopez-Gonzalvez, A., Martin, J., Gabarro, R., Denny, P.W., Barrett, M.P. & Barbas, C. (2018). A complex interplay between sphingolipid and sterol metabolism revealed by perturbations to the Leishmania metabolome caused by miltefosine. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 62(5): e02095-17.
  • Mina, J.G. & Denny, P.W. (2018). Everybody needs sphingolipids, right! Mining for new drug targets in protozoan sphingolipid biosynthesis. Parasitology 145(2): 134-147.
  • Mbekeani, A.J., Stanley, W.A., Kalel, V.C., Meissner, M., Schliebs, W., Erdmann, R., Pohl, E. & Denny, P.W. (2018). Functional analyses of a putative, membrane-bound, peroxisomal import mechanism from the apicomplexan protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. Genes 9(9): 434.
  • Norcliffe, J.L., Mina, J.G., Alvarez-Ruiz, E., Cantizani-Perez, J., de Dios-Anton, F., Colmenarejo, G., Gonzalez-Del Valle, S., Marco-Martin, M., Fiandor, J.M., Martin-Plaza, J.J., Steel, P.G. & Denny, P.W. (2018). Identifying inhibitors of the Leishmania inositol phosphorylceramide synthase with antiprotozoal activity using a yeast-based assay and ultra-high throughput screening platform. Scientific Reports 8: 3938.
  • Britt, Hannah M., García-Herrero, Clara A., Denny, Paul W., Mosely, Jackie A. & Sanderson, John M. (2018). Lytic reactions of drugs with lipid membranes. Chemical Science
  • Denny, P.W. (2018). Microbial protein targets: towards understanding and intervention. Parasitology 145(2): 111-115.
  • Charlton, Rebecca, Rossi-Bergmann, Bartira, Denny, Paul W. & Steel, Patrick G. (2018). Repurposing as a Strategy for the Discovery of New Anti-Leishmanials: The-State-of-the-Art. Parasitology 145(2): 219-236.
  • Trinconi, Cristiana T., Miguel, Danilo C., Silber, Ariel M., Brown, Christopher, Mina, John G.M., Denny, Paul W., Heise, Norton & Uliana, Silvia R.B. (2018). Tamoxifen inhibits the biosynthesis of inositolphosphorylceramide in Leishmania. International Journal for Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance 8(3): 475-487.
  • Alqaisi, A.Q.I., Mbekeani, A.J., Bassas Llorens, M., Elhammer, A.P. & Denny, P.W. (2018). The antifungal Aureobasidin A and an analogue are active against the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii but do not inhibit sphingolipid biosynthesis. Parasitology 145(2): 148-155.
  • Denny, Paul W. (2018). Yeast: bridging the gap between phenotypic and biochemical assays for high-throughput screening. Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery 13(12): 1153-1160.
  • Mina, John, Thye, Julie, Alqaisi, Amjed, Bird, Louise, Dods, Robert, Groftehauge, Morten, Mosely, Jackie, Pratt, Steven, Shams-Eldin, Hosam, Schwarz, Ralph, Pohl, Ehmke & Denny, Paul W. (2017). Functional and phylogenetic evidence of a bacterial origin for the first enzyme in sphingolipid biosynthesis in a phylum of eukaryotic protozoan parasites. Journal of Biological Chemistry 292(29): 12208-12219.
  • Bolt, H.L., Denny, P.W. & Cobb, S.L. (2016). An Efficient Method for the Synthesis of Peptoids with Mixed Lysine-type/Arginine-type Monomers and Evaluation of Their Anti-leishmanial Activity. Journal of Visualized Experiments 117: e54750.
  • Bolt, H.L., Eggimann, G.A., Denny, P.W. & Cobb, S.L. (2016). Enlarging the chemical space of anti-leishmanials: a structure-activity relationship study of peptoids against Leishmania mexicana, a causative agent of cutaneous leishmaniasis. Medicinal Chemistry Communications 7(5): 799-805.
  • Grøftehauge, M.K., Truan, D., Vasil, A., Denny, P.W., Vasil, M.L. & Pohl, E. (2015). Crystal Structure of a Hidden Protein, YcaC, a Putative Cysteine Hydrolase from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, with and without an Acrylamide Adduct. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 16(7): 15971-15984.
  • Eggimann, G.A., Bolt, H.L., Denny, P.W. & Cobb, S.L. (2015). Investigating the Anti-leishmanial Effects of Linear Peptoids. ChemMedChem 10(3): 233-237.
  • Eggimann, G.A., Sweeney, K., Bolt, H.L., Rozatian, N., Cobb, S.L. & Denny, P.W. (2015). The Role of Phosphoglycans in the Susceptibility of Leishmania mexicana to the Temporin Family of Anti-Microbial Peptides. Molecules 20(2): 2775-2785.
  • Denny, P.W. & Steel, P.G. (2015). Yeast as a Potential Vehicle for Neglected Tropical Disease Drug Discovery. Journal of Biomolecular Screening 20(1): 56-63.
  • Norcliffe, J.L., Alvarez-Ruiz, E., Martin-Plaza, J.J., Steel, P.G. & Denny, P.W. (2014). The utility of yeast as a tool for cell-based, target-directed high-throughput screening. Parasitology 141(1): 8-16.
  • Trmčić, M., Chadbourne, F.L., Brear, P.M., Denny, P.W., Cobb, S.L. & Hodgson, D.R.W. (2013). Aqueous synthesis of N,S,-dialkylthiophosphoramidates: design, optimisation and application to library construction and antileishmanial testing. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 11(16): 2660-2675.
  • Pratt, S., Wansadhipathi-Kannangara, N.K., Bruce, C.R., Mina, J.G., Shams-Eldin, H., Casas, J., Hanada, K., Schwarz, R.T., Sonda, S. & Denny, P.W. (2013). Sphingolipid synthesis and scavenging in the intracellular apicomplexan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 187(1): 43-51.
  • Ali, H.Z., Harding, C.R. & Denny, P.W. (2012). Endocytosis and sphingolipid scavenging in Leishmania mexicana amastigotes. Biochemistry Research International 2012: 691363.
  • Smith, T.K., Reynolds, T.B. & Denny, P.W. (2012). Lipid Metabolism as a Therapeutic Target (Editorial). Biochemistry Research International 2012: 158139
  • Young, S.A., Mina, J.G., Denny, P.W. & Smith, T.K. (2012). Sphingolipid and ceramide homeostasis, potential therapeutic targets. Biochemistry Research International 2012: 248135.
  • Mina, J.G., Mosely, J.A., Ali, H.Z., Denny P.W. & Steel, P.G. (2011). Exploring Leishmania major inositol phosphorylceramide synthase (LmjIPCS): insights into the ceramide binding domain. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 9(6): 1823-1830.
  • Featured in: Sheridan, C. (2011). Industry continues dabbling with open innovation models. Nature Biotechnology 29(12): 1063-1065.
  • Chadbourne, F.L., Raleigh, C., Ali, H.Z., Denny, P.W. & Cobb, S.L. (2011). Studies on the antileishmanial properties of the antimicrobial peptides temporin A, B and 1Sa. Journal of Peptide Science 17(11): 751-755.
  • Mina, J.G., Mosely, J.A., Ali, H.Z., Shams-Eldin, H., Schwarz, R.T., Steel, P.G. & Denny, P.W. (2010). A plate-based assay system for analyses and screening of the Leishmania major inositol phosphorylceramide synthase. International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology 42(9): 1553-1561.
  • Cobb, S.L. & Denny, P.W. (2010). Antimicrobial peptides for leishmaniasis. Current Opinion in Investigational Drugs 11(8): 868-875.
  • Mina, J.G., Okada, Y. , Wansadhipathi-Kannangara, N.K., Pratt, S., Shams-Eldin, H., Schwarz, R.T., Steel, P.G., Fawcett, T. & Denny, P.W. (2010). Functional analyses of differentially expressed isoforms of the Arabidopsis inositol phosphorylceramide synthase. Plant Molecular Biology 73(4-5): 399-407.
  • Mina, J.G., Pan, S.Y., Wansadhipathi, N.K., Bruce, C., Shams-Eldin, H., Schwarz, R.T., Steel, P.G. & Denny, P.W. (2009). The Trypanosoma brucei sphingolipid synthase, an essential enzyme and drug target. Molecular And Biochemical Parasitology 168(1): 16-23.
  • Featured in: In Brief (2006). Research Highlights. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 5(9): 722.
  • Denny, P. W., Shams-Eldin, H., Price, H. P., Smith, D. F. & Schwarz, R. T. (2006). The protozoan inositol phosphorylceramide synthase: A novel drug target that defines a new class of sphingolipid synthase. Journal Of Biological Chemistry 281(38): 28200-28209.

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Denny, P.W. (2017). A very unpleasant 'kiss'. Microbiologist 18(4): 20-21.
  • Denny, P.W. (2007). Turning up the heat on tropical disease. BBSRC Business 6.

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Denny, P.W. (2016). Bacteria and protozoa, chemistry and biology discussed.

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Infectious diseases: Parasites that affect both humans and animals