Biology of Disease
Within this theme, new biological mechanisms relevant to unmet medical needs will be studied. For example, Cohort 1 (2019-2023) (Durham) is focusing on the therapeutic potential of inhibiting histidinol dehydrogenase in the bacterial pathogen Clostridium difficile; Alex Hallatt (Newcastle) is using a chemical approach to modulate glucokinase enzyme towards the understanding and treatment of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease; and Laura Filipe (Durham) is working with GSK towards developing new drugs for the Neglected Tropical Disease leishmaniasis.
These and other funded projects will facilitate the identification and validation of new therapeutic targets, and develop new frameworks for the development of drugs, diagnostic agents and biomarkers.
Photo: Paul Denny, working in Brazil
Theme leader - Associate Professor Paul W. Denny (Durham University)
Molecule and Assay Design
Within this theme, research focuses on the identification of molecules for selected medical applications arising from the Biology of Disease theme. For example, Ruth Walker (she/her) (Newcastle) is developing new assays for screening using high-throughput mass spectrometry; Matthew Smith (Durham) is designing and synthesising new molecules for anti-cancer pro-drugs; and Jessica Graham (Newcastle) is producing a DNA-encoded library.
Image: Drug pipeline
Furthermore, design, synthesis, and testing represent critical bottlenecks in the process of molecular discovery.
Theme leader - Prof. Matthias Trost (Newcastle University)
Structural Biology and Computation
Within this theme, new approaches to predict, identify, and characterise protein-ligand interactions relevant to the Molecule and Assay Design theme are being developed. Also, research in this theme focuses on the solution of new biological structures relevant to the topics identified in the Biology of Disease theme. For example, Rachel Pirie (Newcastle) is working on on novel data science and mathematical approaches to drug discovery, and Olivia Gittins (Newcastle) is developing protein aptamers to enable structure-based drug discovery.
Image: Visualisation of “druggable” allosteric binding sites reported by Cosolvent Analysis Toolkit developed in the group of Dr. Agnieszka Bronowska.
Theme leader - Dr. Agnieszka Bronowska (Newcastle University)
Newcastle University is a leading institution for medical research, being consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally. We have an international reputation and proven track-record in drug discovery and medicinal chemistry. In REF2021 100% of our Chemistry research was rated as world leading for impact.
Multi-disciplinary research at the interface between physical science and biosciences lies at the core of the Durham University strategy. The University is also a leader in industrial engagement and translational research, and the Chemistry Department was ranked 1st for impact in REF2014.