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Department of Chemistry


Dr. Gonçalo Bernardes is a University Lecturer, a Royal Society University Research Fellow & a Fellow of Trinity Hall College, Cambridge.

What we do:

Nature has its own machinery for modifying the structure of proteins. In our research, we’re attempting to mimic this machinery to gain significant therapeutic benefits. We’re engineering chemical reactions that enable us to modify proteins while allowing to choose the precise location in the protein’s structure where we want to install these modifications.

This work has a whole range of applications. For example, we’re currently developing ways of selectively labelling proteins in living cells: this can help us monitor the proteins associated with particular diseases without interfering either with the protein’s structure, function, activity and location or upsetting the cell’s normal functions. Another important potential application for this work is linking cytotoxic drug molecules (molecules that are poisonous to cells) to antibodies and then using the antibody to deliver the drug in a very targeted way to the diseased tissue. This could improve the effectiveness of cancer treatments and reduce their side effects.

These are two examples from among our lines of research that use site-selective and bioorthogonal chemistry to address challenges in biology and medicine. We hope our methods may in future be used in laboratories around the world to help develop new drugs with improved effectiveness and reduced side-effects for some of the most common diseases such as cancer.


We are funded by the Royal Society, by research council grants in both countries (EPSRC and FCT Portugal), and by the EU including through a European Research Council Starting and Proof-of-Concept Grants

For further information on our research and for oportunities, please check our research group website.


De novo design of potent and selective mimics of IL-2 and IL-15
D-A Silva, S Yu, UY Ulge, JB Spangler, KM Jude, C Labão-Almeida, LR Ali, A Quijano-Rubio, M Ruterbusch, I Leung, T Biary, SJ Crowley, E Marcos, CD Walkey, BD Weitzner, F Pardo-Avila, J Castellanos, L Carter, L Stewart, SR Riddell, M Pepper, GJL Bernardes, M Dougan, KC Garcia, D Baker
– Nature
One-pot stapling of interchain disulfides of antibodies using an isobutylene motif.
S Sun, P Akkapeddi, MC Marques, N Martínez-Sáez, VM Torres, C Cordeiro, O Boutureira, GJL Bernardes
– Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry
Radical-mediated thiol-ene strategy for photoactivation of thiol-containing drugs in cancer cells
S Sun, BL Oliveira, G Jiménez-Osés, GJL Bernardes
– Angewandte Chemie - International Edition
Protein engineering through chemical, genetic and computational manipulation
I Hamachi, GJL Bernardes
– Chemical Society reviews
Modular Pore-Forming Immunotoxins with Caged Cytotoxicity Tailored by Directed Evolution
NL Mutter, M Soskine, G Huang, IS Albuquerque, GJL Bernardes, G Maglia
– ACS Chemical Biology
Posttranslational chemical mutagenesis: to reveal the role of non-catalytic cysteine residues in pathogenic bacterial phosphatases
JB Bertoldo, H Terenzi, S Hüttelmaier, GJL Bernardes
– Biochemistry
Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Homogenous Thiol-Linked NHC*–Au–Albumin and –Trastuzumab Bioconjugates
MJ Matos, C Labão-Almeida, C Sayers, O Dada, M Tacke, GJL Bernardes
– Chemistry - A European Journal
Site-selective installation of an electrophilic handle on proteins for bioconjugation.
B Lee, S Sun, E Jiménez-Moreno, AA Neves, GJL Bernardes
– Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry
Chemo and regioselective lysine modification on native proteins
MJ Matos, BL Oliveira, N Martínez-Sáez, A Guerreiro, PMSD Cal, J Bertoldo, M Maneiro, E Perkins, J Howard, MJ Deery, JM Chalker, F Corzana, G Jiménez-Osés, GJL Bernardes
– J Am Chem Soc
A fluorogenic probe for cell surface phosphatidylserine using an intramolecular indicator displacement sensing mechanism
VE Zwicker, BL Oliveira, JH Yeo, ST Fraser, GJL Bernardes, EJ New, KA Jolliffe
– Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English)
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Research Group

Research Interest Groups

Telephone number

01223 336305

Email address


Trinity Hall