... understanding life in molecular detail

Prof Adam Nelson

chemical biology; diversity-oriented synthesis; directed evolution


My research interests are focused on the application of synthetic organic chemistry to biological problems. Much of our research is undertaken in collaboration with colleagues from the Astbury Centre, and researchers in the group receive in-depth training at the interface between chemistry and biology. Synthesis is an immensely powerful tool in chemical biology, which we exploit in the directed evolution of enzymes as tailored catalysts for synthetic chemistry, and in the discovery of small molecular modulators of protein function.

Current major projects include:
  • Methods for the systematic exploration of chemical space
  • Discovery of enzymes with synthetically-valuable properties
  • Realising activity-directed synthesis
  • Discovery of small molecule modulators of biological systems

Professor Nelson's research interests are focused on the application of synthetic organic chemistry to biological problems. Much of our research is undertaken in collaboration with colleagues from the Astbury Centre, and researchers in the group receive in-depth training at the interface between chemistry and biology. Synthesis is an immensely powerful tool in chemical biology, which we exploit in the directed evolution of enzymes as tailored catalysts for synthetic chemistry, and in the discovery of small molecular modulators of protein function.

Our laboratories are superbly equipped for research at the interface between chemistry and biology. We recently moved into newly refurbished laboratories in the School of Chemistry, which provide 2m fume cupboards for each researcher. We are located close to facilities for analytical and preparative HPLC, semi-preparative mass-directed HPLC, analytical LC-MS, IR, NMR (up to 500 MHz), automated synthesis and protein expression. The University of Leeds has invested heavily in chemical biology, and we have recently installed a screening facility for storing, transferring, assaying and annotating the biological activity of small molecules. Current and recent research has been funded by EPSRC, BBSRC, the Wellcome Trust, the EU and industry (AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck).

Detailed research programme                  Close ▲
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Professor of Chemical Biology
BA (Cambridge) PhD (Cambridge)
RSC Meldola medal (2001); Pfizer academic award (2002); AstraZeneca research award in organic chemistry (2005); RSC Corday-Morgan medal (2007)

Senior lecturer in organic chemistry (Leeds) 2003-2005
Lecturer in organic chemistry (Leeds) 1998-2003
Postdoctoral researcher (Manchester) 1996-1998

Chemistry G.30
School of Chemistry
0113 343 6502
a.s.nelson@leeds.ac.uk
http://www.asn.leeds.ac.uk

Selected Publications

  1. Karageorgis G, Warriner S, Nelson A Efficient discovery of bioactive scaffolds by activity-directed synthesis. Nature Chemistry 6 872-876, 2014 DOI:10.1038/nchem.2034

  2. Howard JK, Müller M, Berry A, Nelson A An Enantio- and Diastereoselective Chemoenzymatic Synthesis ofα-Fluoro β-Hydroxy Carboxylic Esters Angewandte Chemie - International Edition 55 6767-6770, 2016 DOI:10.1002/anie.201602852

  3. Karageorgis G, Dow M, Aimon A, Warriner S, Nelson A Activity-Directed Synthesis with Intermolecular Reactions: Development of a Fragment into a Range of Androgen Receptor Agonists Angewandte Chemie - International Edition 54 13538-13544, 2015 DOI:10.1002/anie.201506944

  4. Timms N, Windle CL, Polyakova A, Ault JR, Trinh CH, Pearson AR, Nelson A, Berry A Structural insights into the recovery of aldolase activity in N-acetylneuraminic acid lyase by replacement of the catalytically active lysine withγ-thialysine by using a chemical mutagenesis strategy. Chembiochem 14 474-481, 2013 DOI:10.1002/cbic.201200714