skip to content

Professor Shankar Balasubramanian FMedSci FRS

Portrait of sb10031

Nucleic acids are fundamental to life. Our research is focused on the chemical biology of nucleic acids, and employs the principles of chemistry and the molecular sciences to address questions of importance in biology and medicine. Projects are inherently interdisciplinary and will provide scope for a diversity of intellectual and experimental approaches that include: organic synthesis, biophysics, molecular and cellular biology and genomics. Our scientific goals are problem-driven, which constantly raises the need to invent new methodology.


A major interest is to elucidate and manipulate mechanisms that control the expression of genes (either transcription, or translation). We are particularly interested in the role of non-canonical nucleic acid structures that control gene expression (e.g. G-quadruplexes, micro RNA and RNA structures in the 5' untranslated regions of mRNAs). Our goal is to design and synthesise small organic molecules that target such structures and alter the expression of certain genes of interest. Such small molecule gene regulators are valuable tools to study mechanisms in biology and will also open up new approaches for therapeutics and molecular medicine, particularly for diseases characterized by aberrant expression of certain genes (e.g. various cancers).


Our fundamental science will inevitably create opportunities for translation and commercialisation. One such example was our invention (with Professor David Klenerman) of new DNA sequencing technology ("Solexa sequencing") that was commercialised as a Cambridge University spinout company (now part of Illumina Inc.) and is used routinely for applications in genomics, including human genome sequencing. 

To hear Shankar Balasubramanian discuss some of the group's research click here:


5-Hydroxymethylcytosine is a predominantly stable DNA modification
M Bachman, S Uribe-Lewis, X Yang, M Williams, A Murrell, S Balasubramanian – Nature Chemistry (2014) 6, 1049
Solexa Sequencing: Decoding Genomes on a Population Scale.
S Balasubramanian – Clin Chem (2014)
Targeting DNA g-quadruplexes with helical small molecules.
S Müller, K Laxmi-Reddy, PV Jena, B Baptiste, Z Dong, F Godde, T Ha, R Rodriguez, S Balasubramanian, I Huc – Chembiochem (2014) 15, 2563
Determinants of G quadruplex-induced epigenetic instability in REV1-deficient cells.
D Schiavone, G Guilbaud, P Murat, C Papadopoulou, P Sarkies, MN Prioleau, S Balasubramanian, JE Sale – The EMBO journal (2014) 33, 2507
Chemical biology of genomic DNA: minimizing PCR bias
GR McInroy, EA Raiber, S Balasubramanian – Chemical communications (Cambridge, England) (2014) 50, 12047
oxBS-450K: A method for analysing hydroxymethylation using 450K BeadChips.
SK Stewart, TJ Morris, P Guilhamon, H Bulstrode, M Bachman, S Balasubramanian, S Beck – Methods (2014)
Nucleotide Contributions to the Structural Integrity and DNA Replication Initiation Activity of Noncoding Y RNA
I Wang, MP Kowalski, AR Langley, R Rodriguez, S Balasubramanian, ST Hsu, T Krude – Biochemistry (2014) 53, 5848
Chemical Methods for Decoding Cytosine Modifications in DNA.
MJ Booth, EA Raiber, S Balasubramanian – Chem Rev (2014) 140929121453004
Chemical biology on the genome
S Balasubramanian – Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry (2014) 22, 4356
Quantitative sequencing of 5-formylcytosine in DNA at single-base resolution
MJ Booth, G Marsico, M Bachman, D Beraldi, S Balasubramanian – Nature Chemistry (2014) 6, 435
  • 1 of 19
  • >

Research Interest Group

Telephone number

01223 336347

Email address