Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology

We synthesise small molecules with novel biological and medicinal properties and apply chemical principles to understanding the fundamental processes of recognition, mechanism and function in biological systems.

Organic chemistry and chemical biology themes

Our research group encompasses expertise in organic synthesis, physical organic chemistry and chemical biology. Our research areas include developing novel methodology and catalysts for organic synthesis, rational drug design, gaining fundamental insights into mechanism, reactivity and recognition  including the mechanistic biology of proteins involved in DNA replication, DNA repair and porphyrin biosynthesis.

We have strong ties with a number of leading companies including AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline,Concept Life Sciences, Sandexis and Syngenta and have established two University of Sheffield spinoff companies Redbrick Molecular and Modulus Oncology.

Major themes

  • Synthetic organic chemistry - we develop novel synthetic methods for the preparation of complex and biologically active molecules including heterocycles, biological probes, amino acids and nucleotides. This includes organometallic-based asymmetric synthesis, catalysis, novel organoboron and phosphorus chemistry and energetic materials.
  • Therapeutic molecules - the rational design and synthesis of compounds with significant biological and medicinal properties including antimalarial, anti-inflammatory, antibiotics and drugs to prevent Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs).
  • Recognition, catalysis and mechanism in biology - the design of small organic molecules, bioinspired supramolecular systems and modified nucleic acids and proteins to understand the processes of recognition and catalysis in biology and a mechanistic understanding of proteins involved in phosphate diester bond cleavage, DNA replication, DNA repair and porphyrin biosynthesis.


For further information about Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Sheffield please see the staff page of individual researchers below.

Dr David M. Williams

Dr Benjamin M. Partridge

Professor Beining Chen

Professor Iain Coldham

Professor Jane A. Grasby

Professor Joseph P.A. Harrity

Professor Richard F.W. Jackson (Emeritus)

Dr Jim Reid

Professor Nicholas H. Williams

Members of other research clusters active in organic chemistry and chemical biology:

Dr Barbara Ciani

Dr Tim Craggs

Professor Graham J. Leggett

Professor Jim A. Thomas

Dr Lance J. Twyman

A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.