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Investigating Potential Applications of Functional DNA-based Materials and Sensors

School of Chemistry

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 sensors for DNA point mutations linked to cancer 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. (

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