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:


Formation and abundance of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in RNA
SM Huber, P van Delft, L Mendil, M Bachman, K Smollett, F Werner, EA Miska, S Balasubramanian – Chembiochem (2015) 16, n/a
Insights into the mechanism of a G-quadruplex-unwinding DEAH-box helicase.
MC Chen, P Murat, K Abecassis, AR Ferré-D'Amaré, S Balasubramanian – Nucleic acids research (2015) 43, 2223
Decoding genomes
S Balasubramanian – Biochemical Society Transactions (2015) 43, 1
Accurate Measurement of 5-Methylcytosine and 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine in Human Cerebellum DNA by Oxidative Bisulfite on an Array (OxBS-Array).
SF Field, D Beraldi, M Bachman, SK Stewart, S Beck, S Balasubramanian – PLoS One (2015) 10, e0118202
The biology and genomic localization of cytosine modifications
GR McInroy, NM Bell, G Ficz, S Balasubramanian, W Reik, E-A Raiber – Epigenetics and Human Health (2015) 4, 167
5-Formylcytosine alters the structure of the DNA double helix.
EA Raiber, P Murat, DY Chirgadze, D Beraldi, BF Luisi, S Balasubramanian – Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (2014) 22, 44
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
Dual binding of an antibody and a small molecule increases the stability of TERRA G-quadruplex.
PM Yangyuoru, M Di Antonio, C Ghimire, G Biffi, S Balasubramanian, H Mao – Angew Chem Int Ed Engl (2015) 54, 910
Solexa sequencing: decoding genomes on a population scale.
S Balasubramanian – Clinical Chemistry (2015) 61, 21
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
  • 1 of 19
  • >

Research Interest Group

Telephone number

01223 336347

Email address