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We design, synthesise and evaluate biologically active molecules and work at the interfaces of Chemistry with Biology and Medicine. Our synthetic tools probe cell signalling and in Medicinal Chemistry our drugs have reached numerous clinical trials, with clinical benefit for cancer patients.

Key fragments of two diverse anticancer agents are combined into a synthetic chimera with very potent activity on human breast cancer xenografts

In our Group, we use synthetic chemistry to drive mechanistic research in fundamental biology and for therapeutic intervention in medicine. We are uncovering biological mechanisms and new drug targets, designing synthetic drug candidates and translating them into clinical use via Academic Drug Discovery.

In 2016, we moved to Oxford from the University of Bath, choosing to locate our new chemistry laboratory here in the Department of Pharmacology to be as close as possible to cutting-edge biological and medical research. Our work is highly collaborative, international and is focused around two themes:

The Chemistry of Cell Signalling: Inositol phosphate-mediated signal transduction and the roles of the higher inositol polyphosphates and nucleotide second messengers cyclic ADP-ribose, ADP-ribose and NAADP.

Anticancer Drug Design, Discovery & Translational Medicine: Drug design for hormone-dependent and independent diseases in women’s health; inhibitor design for sulfatases; aromatase, dehydrogenases and multi-targeting approaches.

Synthetic chemistry allows access to structurally-modified messengers and is supported by biochemical assays, protein crystallography and by in silico computational design. Synthetic molecules are often co-crystallized with relevant proteins for structure-based design.

We use chemical insight both to understand and change the way cells signal both within themselves and between each other, specifically tailoring our molecules in defined ways. Our work provides both “first-in-class” biological and clinical targets and the investigative chemical tools and drugs to interact with them.

Our team

  • Barry Potter
    Barry Potter

    Emeritus Professor of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry

Selected publications

External Collaborators

Professor Kate Barald, Michigan, USA

Dr Charles Brearley, UEA, UK

Dr Maria Brehm, Hamburg, Germany

Professor Christophe Erneux, Brussels, Belgium

Professor Alexander Fluegel, Goettingen, Germany

Dr Paul Foster, Birmingham, UK

Professor Antony Galione, Oxford, UK

Professor Andreas Guse, Hamburg, Germany

Professor Adrian Harris, Oxford, UK

Dr Ernie Hamel, NIH, USA

Steve and Megan in the New Lab

Professor Carlos Kremer, Montevideo, Uruguay

Professor Hon-Cheung Lee, Shenzhen, China

Professor Robert McKenna, Florida, USA

Professor John Schwabe, Leicester, UK

Dr Stephen  Shears, NIH, USA

Professor Satoshi Shuto, Sapporo, Japan

Dr Michel Steinmetz, Switzerland

Dr Pawel Swietach, Oxford, UK

Professor Colin Taylor Cambridge, UK

Dr Sabine Windhorst, Hamburg, Germany

Research in our Group is funded by The Wellcome Trust

Drug Candidate

Gallery of journal covers

Related research themes