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Design of bimetallic fluorescent molecules for the treatment of cancer

   School of Chemistry

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  Dr R Lord  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Applications are welcome for a self-funded PhD project in the School of Chemistry at the University of East Anglia, to work in the research group of Dr Rianne Lord.

This project will focus on new advances in the area of bimetallic complexes for the treatment of cancer (ChemBioChem 2020, 21(14), 1988 and Chem. Eur. J. 2021, 27(11), 3737). The project will help to move metallodrug research away from toxic heavy metal compounds and towards new non-toxic, biocompatible and cheaper metal alternatives. There will be a strong emphasis on the design of early transition metal compounds, particularly those of vanadium (Chem. Eur. J. 2019, 25(53), 12275-12280 and ChemMedChem 2021,16(15), 2402-2410).

Cancer target specific metal compounds will be synthesised and decorated with functionalised ligands to enable their imaging by fluorescent microscopy. These compounds will be characterised by a range of analytical techniques, including NMR, EPR, mass spectrometry, single and powder X-ray crystallography and confocal microscopy, using our state-of-the-art equipment at UEA.

The second part of the project will involve screening the compounds for their activity in various cancerous and normal cell lines. These experiments will be conducted in the School of Chemistry and the Biomedical Research Centre (BMRC), in collaboration with Dr Chris Morris (School of Pharmacy). The assays will include aseptic 2D and 3D cell culture techniques, determination of cytotoxicity values, cellular uptake, whole-cell metal content and modes of action by DNA interactions and gene expression. The results will help us to gain structure activity relationships and fine-tune the compounds to improve their activity and selectivity.

Students must have at least a 2:1 in chemistry or related discipline or a good master’s degree in chemistry and an interest in cell biology.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at
A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. Applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


β-diketonate versus β-ketoiminate: the importance of a ferrocenyl moiety on improving the anticancer potency, Allison, M., Wilson, D., Pask, C. M., McGowan, P. C. & Lord, R. M, ChemBioChem 2020, 21(14), 1988-1996
Bis(bipyridine)ruthenium(II) ferrocenyl β‐diketonate complexes: exhibiting nanomolar potency against human cancer cell lines, Allison, M., Caramés-Méndez, P., Pask, C. M., Phillips, R. M., Lord, R. M. & McGowan, P. C, Chem. Eur. J. 2021, 27(11), 3737-3744
Fast, facile and solvent-free dry-melt synthesis of oxovanadium(IV) complexes: Simple design with high potency towards cancerous cells Zegke, M., Spencer, H. L. M. & Lord, R. M., Chem. Eur. J. 2019, 25(53), 12275-12280
Understanding the potential in vitro modes of action of bis(β‐diketonato) oxovanadium(IV) complexes Sergi, B., Bulut, I., Xia, Y., Waller, Z. A. E., Yildizhan, Y., Acilan, C. & Lord, R. M., ChemMedChem 2021, 16(15), 2402-2410
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