University of Dundee

Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery

The Division of Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery (BCDD) is a multi-disciplinary and highly collaborative research division, encompassing both fundamental research and translational research. Some of the activities are as follows:

We have a large team working on the kinetoplastid parasites, where we are working to unravel their basic biology, understand phenomena such as antigenic variation, validate new drug targets, establish the mode of action of new and experimental drugs and elucidate mechanisms of drug resistance.

We have strengths in bioinformatics and chemoinformatics, where we are seeking to mine the ever-increasing amounts of data to understand basic biology and design potential new therapeutic agents.

We utilise a variety of biophysical methods to discover new ligands for proteins and to characterise their interactions. Structural biology techniques are also used to characterize proteins and understand the molecular basis of protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions.

To facilitate translational research, we have established the Drug Discovery Unit (DDU), which is an integrated multidisciplinary team that works to translate basic science into drug leads and drug candidates. The DDU has expertise in high throughput screening, molecular pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, drug metabolism & pharmacokinetics, computational chemistry and biophysical methods, much of it gained within the BioPharma industry. The focus of the DDU’s work is in two main areas. For diseases of the developing world, we are seeking to develop safe and affordable medicines for diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and the kinetoplastid diseases. Secondly, our innovative targets programme seeks to translate emerging high impact biology into potential drug discovery programmes for diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease.

Mode of Action Group

To support our drug discovery programs, we have established a Mode of Action group. The principal goal of the group is to define the specific molecular targets of compounds that are active against Kinetoplastid parasites. To find out more about our work, or if you have a phenotypically active compound and would like to investigate it’s mode of action, please visit our webpages.


BCDD Protein Production Team

PPT is a team of expert scientists, dedicated to the production of quality protein for translational research. We provide a complete service, from construct design to purified product. Using three different expression systems, E.coli, Pichia pastoris and Baculovirus, we express both intracellular and secreted proteins.

For further information contact the BCDD Protein Production Team.

Principal Investigators

Professor Alessio Ciulli FRSC
Professor of Chemical and Structural Biology and Director of the Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation
Chemical and Structural Biology of Targeted Protein Degradation
Professor Sir Mike Ferguson CBE FRS FRSE FMedSci FRSB
Regius Professor of Life Sciences
Molecular parasitology, glycobiology and drug discovery
Professor Mark Field FRSB
Professor of Cell Biology and Parasitology
Molecular parasitology, intracellular transport, gene expression, eukaryotic evolution
Professor Ian Gilbert FMedSci FRSE FRSC
Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Roscoe Chair of Chemistry, Head of the Division of Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery and Interim Head of the Drug Discovery Unit
Design and synthesis of potential therapeutic agents
Professor David Gray BEM
Head of Biology and Professor of Translational Biology
Molecular Pharmacology and Compound Screening
Dr. Robyn Hickerson
Acting Principal Investigator
Professor Andrew Hopkins FRSC FRSE FRSB
Chair of Medicinal Informatics and SULSA Research Professor of Translational Biology
Chemoinformatics, chemogenomics and drug discovery
Professor David Horn FRSE
Professor of Parasite Molecular Biology and Interim Head of WCAIR
Antigenic variation, drug resistance and RNAi screens in trypanosomes
Professor Bill Hunter FRSE, FMedSci, FRSC
Professor of Structural Biology
Protein structure and function; fundamental chemical biology and early stage antimicrobial drug discovery
Dr Mattie Pawlowic
Principal Investigator, Lecturer
Professor Kevin Read
Professor of Quantitative Pharmacology and Head of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics
Drug discovery, lead optimisation and preclinical development
Dr Susan Wyllie
Principal Investigator - Head of the Mode of Action Group
Kinetoplastid Biology
Dr. William Farnaby MRSC
Principal Investigator


Dr Arthur Crossman
Lecturer (Teaching and Scholarship)
Professor Alan Fairlamb CBE, FLS, FRSE, FMedSci, FRSB
Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry and Wellcome Principal Research Fellow
Biochemical Drug Targets in Parasites
Professor Jason Swedlow OBE FRSE
Professor of Quantitative Cell Biology
Mitotic chromosome dynamics
Dr Melissa D'Ascenzio FHEA
Lecturer (Teaching and Scholarship)
Dr Stephen Kelley
Lecturer and Programme Lead (Biomedical Sciences)

Independent Investigators

Dr Manu De Rycker
Head of Translational Parasitology


Professor Irwin McLean FRS FRSE FMedSci
Emeritus Professor of Genetic Medicine
Dermatology and Genetic Medicine - treating genetic disease