Dr David M. Williams

Department of Chemistry

Reader in Chemical Biology

+44 114 222 9502

Full contact details

Dr David M. Williams
Department of Chemistry
Dainton Building
13 Brook Hill
S3 7HF

Dr. Williams obtained a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Liverpool in 1985, which was followed by a PhD from the same institution in 1988. From 1988, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max-Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Göttingen and from 1992-1995 at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge.

In 1995 he became a demonstrator at the University of Sheffield. In 1999 he became a lecturer and in 2006 a senior lecturer. In 2014 he was promoted to Reader.

Research interests

Our main areas of research are in the synthesis of modified nucleosides and nucleotides and their applications.

Currently we are interested in the chemical synthesis of 5'-triphosphates of base-modified, nucleoside analogues that have altered base pairing specificities. We are studying the incorporation of these analogues into DNA by polymerase enzymes in order to gain an insight into the role of base pairing during DNA replication and DNA mutagenesis.

Exposure to alkylating agents can lead to the formation of highly toxic O6-alkylguanine lesions within DNA. We have developed chemical methodology for the preparation of oligodeoxyribonucleotides containing a variety of O6-alkylguanine analogues and these are being used to study DNA recognition and repair by the human protein O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) and the alkyltransferase-like protein Atl1.

Other areas of interest include the use SELEX for the design of nucleic acid-based ligands and catalysts containing chemically synthesised imidazolyl and amino modified nucleotides of dUTP and 7-deazadATP, studying the structural properties of nucleic acids containing modified pyrimidine and purine bases and the design and synthesis of modified oligodeoxyribonucleotides for DNA-DNA and DNA-protein cross-linking.



  • Blackburn GM (2006) Nucleic Acids in Chemistry and Biology. Royal Society of Chemistry. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers

Teaching interests

Organic Chemistry

Teaching activities

Undergraduate and postgraduate taught modules

  • Chemistry and the World Around Us (Level 1): Magic Medicines
    This course aims to develop an appreciation of some of the types of medicines that are available, how they were discovered and how they work to control diseases.
  • Aromatic chemistry (Level 2)
    This module reviews the concept of aromaticity and the mechanisms of reactions of aromatic systems, particularly benzene and its derivatives.
  • Introduction to Organic Synthesis 1 (Level 2)
    This module revises the reactions of carbonyl compounds with nucleophiles, introduces conjugate addition reactions (electrophilic alkenes), and discusses the acid and base-catalysed reactions of carbonyl compounds at the α-carbon via enols and enolates. Methods for the synthesis of amines are also discussed.
  • Heterocyclic Chemistry (Level 3)
    This lecture course introduces aromatic and non-aromatic heterocyclic compounds.

Support Teaching:

  • Tutorials: Level 2 Organic Chemistry.

Laboratory Teaching:

  • Level 2 Organic Laboratories
  • Level 4 Research Project