Skip to main content

Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry


Expertise of research area
bioorthogonal chemistry; carbohydrates; drug delivery; drug discovery; enzymes; lipids; Medicinal chemistry; nanotechnology; protein-protein interactions; proteomics

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

By applying chemical tools and methods to understand the molecular basis of life, we open new opportunities for treating diverse diseases from cancer, to bacterial infections and neurodegenerative disease. Our research is highly interdisciplinary, combining chemical synthesis, medicinal chemistry, protein engineering, enzymology, biophysical methods, and nanoscience.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>Chemical biology involves applying chemical methods to the study of biological problems and is a key interest in the group. Research in this area focuses on:</p> <ul> <li>developing chemical tools and approaches for interrogating complex biological systems through bioorthogonal chemistry and chemical proteomics</li> <li>elucidation of fundamental mechanisms of biological processes&nbsp;</li> <li>re-engineering and chemically modifying proteins for applications in biophysics and industrial biotechnology</li> </ul> <p>These research interests are largely coordinated through the <a href="">Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology</a> &ndash; a cross-faculty interdisciplinary research centre that brings together chemists, biochemists, physicists and structural biologists who share a common vision to understand life in molecular detail. By expanding our understanding of human and microbial biology in health and disease, we develop new methods and discover new targets for medicinal chemistry.</p> <p>Medicinal chemistry involves the discovery and optimisation of bioactive molecules for a wide range of potential therapeutic targets. Research in this area focuses on:</p> <ul> <li>early-stage drug discovery in a wide range of disease areas including cancer, cardiovascular disease, bacterial and viral infections, malaria and neurodegenerative diseases</li> <li>computational methods for virtual screening and rational drug design</li> <li>new strategies for generating diverse libraries of medicinally-relevant compounds</li> <li>targeted delivery systems based on vesicles, nanoparticles and proteins for imaging and/or therapeutic applications</li> <li>technologies for disease diagnosis</li> </ul> <p>Our work addresses global challenges of antibiotic resistance and diseases of an aging population. Many of these activities are undertaken in collaboration with biomedical research groups across the University of Leeds including <a href="">Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine</a> and <a href="">Leeds Institute of Medical Research at St James&#39;s</a>.</p> <p>We have superb facilities for chemical synthesis, analysis and biological chemistry/molecular biology including:</p> <ul> <li>a facility for screening libraries of small molecules&nbsp;</li> <li>a suite dedicated to the high-throughput synthesis of small molecules</li> <li>computer cluster dedicated to ligand design</li> <li>open-access NMR spectroscopy (300-500 MHz) and high resolution electrospray mass spectrometry</li> <li>integrated laboratories for protein engineering and chemical biology research</li> </ul> <p>Access to all major structural biology and biophysical techniques is available through our association with the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology. The &pound;17million <a href="">Astbury BioStructure laboratory</a> has internationally leading facilities for cryo-electron microscopy and biological NMR spectrometry (600-950 MHz).</p> <p>Our work is inherently interdisciplinary and we work closely in collaboration with biologists, medics and industrial partners. Members of the chemical biology and medicinal chemistry group lead or participate in a number of large multi-centre and multinational projects funded by UKRI and the European Union:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">The Rosalind Franklin Institute</a></li> <li><a href="">PoPPI</a>&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;Perturbation of Protein-Protein Interactions</li> <li><a href="">synBIOcarb</a> &ndash; Synthetic Glycobiology for cancer diagnostics and drug targeting</li> <li><a href="">TASPPI</a>&nbsp;&ndash; Targeted small-molecule Stabilisation of Protein-Protein Interactions</li> </ul> <p>We have strong links to the <a href="">pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors</a>, and many projects are undertaken in collaboration with industry.</p> <p>In addition to PhD projects funded through the School of Chemistry, we also supervise students on several cross-faculty and inter-institutional doctoral training programmes including the <a href="">White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership</a>, the <a href="">British Heart Foundation 4 Year PhD Programme</a> and the <a href="">MRC DiMeN Doctoral Training Partnership</a>.</p> <h5>Why do your PhD at Leeds?&nbsp;</h5> <p><strong>96% of our research is world-leading (REF 2021)&nbsp;</strong><br /> At Leeds, our research addresses the most prevalent real-world challenges &ndash; providing solutions that have had both a national and global impact.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Study in an active research environment&nbsp;</strong><br /> Studying your PhD with us means you&rsquo;ll be working in a professional research environment, using UK-leading facilities to bring your project to life &ndash; alongside active researchers who are at the forefront of their area.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>A strong network of support &nbsp;</strong><br /> The Leeds Doctoral College connects our community of researchers and can offer you the guidance, services and opportunities you&rsquo;ll need to get the most out of your PhD.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Close industry links&nbsp;</strong><br /> Our partnerships and links to companies and academic institutions give you the opportunity to network at industry talks, seminars and conferences, building connections that&#39;ll benefit your next steps after you complete your PhD.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Professional skills development &nbsp;</strong><br /> We think of the whole picture at Leeds. That&rsquo;s why we offer a range of workshops and courses that&#39;ll enhance your skillset further and transfer into your professional career.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Personal and wellbeing services&nbsp;</strong><br /> Mental health and wellbeing support are integral to who we are at Leeds and you&rsquo;ll have access to the full range of services we offer to ensure you&rsquo;re feeling your best &ndash; and reaching your potential in your studies.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Join our global community&nbsp;</strong><br /> We welcome students, researchers, academics, partners and alumni from more than 140 countries, all over the world. This means, as a university, we&rsquo;re bringing together different cultures and perspectives which helps strengthen our research &ndash; and societal impact.</p> <h3>Useful links and further reading:</h3> <ul> <li><a href="">Research degrees within the School of Chemistry</a></li> <li><a href="">Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry group</a></li> <li><a href="">School of Chemistry, Research and Innovation</a></li> </ul> <h3>Leeds Doctoral College</h3> <p>Our <a href="">Doctoral College</a> supports you throughout your postgraduate research journey. It brings together all the support services and opportunities to enhance your research, your development, and your overall experience.</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the <a href="">University&#39;s website</a>.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For general enquiries and details regarding the application process, please contact the Graduate School Office:<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a>, t: +44 (0)113 34 35057</p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Linked project opportunities</h2>
<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Linked funding opportunities</h2>