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Chemical Biology and Biophysics

The School of Chemistry and Biosciences has a large pool of knowledge to draw upon in the field of Chemical Biology and Biophysics.

This research group is interested in all forms of chemical synthesis and application, particularly their interactions with biological systems.

Chemical compounds can both be synthesised experimentally or computationally simulated, and our advanced techniques can give new light on biophysical pathways and reactions that inform our chemical understanding of the natural world.

Research themes

Inorganic Synthesis

We are a cluster of research groups working in bioinorganic and materials chemistry, with a wide range of techniques varying from synthetic chemistry to chemical biology.

Our interests range from the synthesis of electron-deficient precious metal complexes to the synthesis of organometallic and coordination complexes.

We have expertise in the formulation of these compounds in polymer particles for drug delivery and biological applications.

Electron-deficient precious metal complexes

Researchers working at the University of Bradford are designing and synthesizing electron-deficient precious metal complexes, developing new exciting chemistry in solution and in the solid-state. Careful formulation of these drugs allows them to improve their biological properties, often encasing them in polymer particles. It is hoped that these compounds could be used in targeted anticancer and Boron Neutron Capture Therapy. Researchers are also exploring their potential for gas sensing via formulating the compounds into absorbent gel materials.

Taking advantage of the spreading of the particles in the dry-state, our researchers are also investigating the formation of multi-doped graphene surfaces on which single metal atoms can hop, migrate, and assemble in small molecules, clusters, and nano-crystals as small as 1.5 nm. The rationalisation of the motion of individual atoms on a surface, the elucidation of the kinetics of atom-by-atom crystallisation, and the exploration of the nanocrystal properties are highly novel projects that involve the use of state-of-the-art techniques (including aberration-corrected HRTEM) and interdisciplinary collaborations across chemistry, physics, computation, and life sciences.

Transition metal compounds with tunable ligands

Another strong theme of our inorganic research is developing new transition metal compounds.  We use different co-ordinating groups to improve the biological properties of our compounds, using chemo sensitivity assays (such as MTT) to gain understanding of cell viability after incubation with our drugs. Our goal is to determine modes of action via enzyme and protein inhibition, drug activity under hypoxic conditions and potential DNA damage using Comet assay techniques. We are also interested in understanding our drugs potential as anti-bacterial agents.


Organic Chemistry

The organic chemistry team at Bradford use the full range of established organic chemistry, as well as developing in-house novel reaction methodology, to synthesise molecules for a number of important projects.

These range from medicinal chemistry through to providing synthetic support for archeological projects.

We have the expertise to tackle complex asymmetric multi-step target synthesis, and modern analytical equipment to support our endeavors.

Analytical Chemistry

Organic chemists are at the forefront of forensic and analytical science, as many modern developments have utilised small molecules as specific markers as a means of characterisation. For example as hair grows, it incorporates small molecules such as drugs. Thus analysis of drug location in a hair sample can be used to identify a timeline of drug ingestion. Novel analytical methods for hair analysis have been developed at Bradford using liquid tandem mass spectrometry (LC MS/MS).

LC MS/MS has been successfully used to investigate the final months of a young woman killed by the Inca. The body was discovered in 1999 at the summit of Llullaillaco buried with a rich assortment of offerings. The altitude and low temperatures resulted in immaculate preservation of the body. LC MS/MS analysis showed that alcohol consumption increased rapidly in the last month before death, while coca use increased in her final year peaking at 6 months before her death.  (In collaboration with Dr Andrew Wilson, Archaeological and Forensic Sciences). 


Biophysics

A particular exciting theme in the department that sits at the interface of chemistry, biology and physics is the use of experimental and computational biophysics approaches to study the mechanical properties of tissues and cells and develop our understanding of the molecular basis of disease. 

Computational methods are used to study a range of biomolecules and to design and develop new small molecule and peptide drugs. Current research projects within the department are using computational approaches towards understanding amyloid diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's disease), disease-related post-translational modifications, anti-microbial drug development and the tuning of agonist and antagonist properties. Specialist analytical techniques, such as atomic force microscopy, are also being used to examine nano-structures and investigate the structure of skin and cancer cells as well as determining properties of drug crystals.  


Group members

Chemical Biology and Biophysics is a growing group, currently consisting of:

Title and name:
Dr Richard Bowen
Position:
Reader in Organic Chemistry
Email address:
Telephone number :
Work+44 (0) 1274 233774
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Title and name:
Dr Nicolas Barry
Position:
Royal Society University Research Fellow and Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry
Email address:
Telephone number :
Work+44 (0) 1274 236144
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Title and name:
Dr Rianne Lord
Position:
Lecturer in Bioinorganic Chemistry
Email address:
Telephone number :
Work+44 (0) 1274 236175
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Title and name:
Dr William Martin
Position:
Lecturer in Chemistry
Email address:
Telephone number :
Work+44 (0) 1274 233362
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Title and name:
Dr Colin Grant
Position:
Lecturer in Biophysics
Email address:
Telephone number :
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Title and name:
Dr Clare-Louise Towse
Position:
Lecturer in Biophysical Chemistry
Email address:
Telephone number :
Work+44 (0) 1274 232354
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Title and name:
Dr Anaïs Pitto-Barry
Position:
Post-doctoral Research Assistant
Email address:
Telephone number :
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Research opportunities

We welcome enquiries from talented and committed scientists. The Barry group works at the interface between Chemistry, Materials Science, and Life Sciences. Members gain experience in a wide variety of synthetic, analytical, and characterization techniques.

PhD

For PhD opportunities in this area see our list of available projects.

Summer undergraduate projects

Members of this group have a strong history in hosting undergraduate students in short summer projects, giving them valuable research skills and experience during their studies.

If you are interested in carrying out a short 6-10 week summer project, fully funded, there are many bursary schemes available (for example the Royal Society of Chemistry). Contact our staff well in advance to discuss your project and for assistance with writing the application form.