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Functional DNA-based Materials and Sensors

   School of Chemistry

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  Prof James Tucker  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

This PhD project falls into the areas of supramolecular chemistry, chemical biology and DNA nanotechnology and involves the preparation and study of DNA-based materials and sensors. These systems vary from modified nucleic acids, in which DNA is tagged with redox-active or photo-active units, to completely artificial nucleic acids, in which the sugar-phosphate backbone of DNA is replaced entirely with metal-containing units. The student will study various characteristics of these systems, ranging from their spectroscopic and assembly-forming properties to their ability to mimic biological processes, such as DNA replication. Potential applications include sensing (e.g. for COVID-19, cancer or trauma) and the generation of DNA-based materials with novel catalytic, magnetic or conducting properties. 

The student will be trained in the following techniques: organic synthesis; automated DNA synthesis; UV/vis, fluorescence & CD spectroscopy; electrochemistry; MS; HPLC; gel electrophoresis.

Funding Notes

The project is open to anyone from around the world who can bring their own funding (whether self-funded or from a scholarship) and has (or is about to obtain) a good undergraduate degree in a chemistry-related discipline, with an interest in or experience of one or more of the following topics: organic chemistry or bio-organic chemistry, self-assembly, inorganic chemistry or bio-inorganic chemistry, supramolecular chemistry, biochemistry or chemical biology, spectroscopy, analytical chemistry.

Interested candidates should contact Prof Jim Tucker in the first instance by email, attaching an up-to-date CV.


1) Single Site Discrimination of Cytosine, 5-Methylcytosine, and 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine in Target DNA Using Anthracene-Tagged Fluorescent Probes, JLHA Duprey, GA Bullen, ZY Zhao, DM Bassani, AFA Peacock, J Wilkie, JHR Tucker, ACS Chem. Biol., 2016, 11, 717-721. (
2) Macrocyclic Metal Complex-DNA Conjugates for Electrochemical Sensing of Single Nucleobase Changes in DNA, JLHA Duprey, J. Carr-Smith, S. L. Horswell, J. Kowalski, JHR Tucker, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2016, 138, 746-749. (
3) Cisplatin Adducts of DNA as Precursors for Nanostructured Catalyst Materials, K Englert, R Hendi, PH Robbs, NV Rees, APG Robinson, JHR Tucker, Nanoscale Adv., 2020, 2, 4491-4497 (!divAbstract)

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