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Dr Gonçalo Bernardes

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.


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
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
A Thioether-directed Palladium-cleavable Linker for Targeted Bioorthogonal Drug Decaging
BJ Stenton, BL Oliveira, MJ Matos, L Sinatra, GJL Bernardes
– Chemical Science
Development of Antibody-Directed Therapies: Quo Vadis?
T Rodrigues, GJL Bernardes
– Angew Chem Int Ed Engl
Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Homogeneous Thiol-Linked NHC*-Au-Albumin and -Trastuzumab Bioconjugates.
MJ Matos, C Labão-Almeida, C Sayers, O Dada, M Tacke, GJL Bernardes
– Chemistry
The use of fluoroproline in MUC1 antigen enables efficient detection of antibodies in patients with prostate cancer
VJ Somovilla, IA Bermejo, IS Albuquerque, N Martínez-Sáez, J Castro-López, F García-Martín, I Compañón, H Hinou, S-I Nishimura, J Jiménez-Barbero, JL Asensio, A Avenoza, JH Busto, R Hurtado-Guerrero, JM Peregrina, GJL Bernardes, F Corzana
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Chemoselective Installation of Amine Bonds on Proteins through Aza-Michael Ligation.
AM Freedy, MJ Matos, O Boutureira, F Corzana, A Guerreiro, P Akkapeddi, VJ Somovilla, T Rodrigues, K Nicholls, B Xie, G Jiménez-Osés, KM Brindle, AA Neves, GJL Bernardes
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Precise Probing of Residue Roles by Post-Translational β,γ-C,N Aza-Michael Mutagenesis in Enzyme Active Sites.
J Dadová, K-J Wu, PG Isenegger, JC Errey, GJL Bernardes, JM Chalker, L Raich, C Rovira, BG Davis
– ACS central science
Oxetane Grafts Installed Site-Selectively on Native Disulfides to Enhance Protein Stability and Activity In Vivo.
N Martínez-Sáez, S Sun, D Oldrini, P Sormanni, O Boutureira, F Carboni, I Compañón, MJ Deery, M Vendruscolo, F Corzana, R Adamo, GJL Bernardes
– Angew Chem Int Ed Engl
Enhanced Permeability and Binding Activity of Isobutylene-Grafted Peptides.
S Sun, I Compañón, N Martínez-Sáez, JD Seixas, O Boutureira, F Corzana, GJL Bernardes
– Chembiochem
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01223 336305

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