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Department of Chemistry


Dr. Gonçalo Bernardes is a Reader in Chemical Biology, 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.


The antidiabetic drug lobeglitazone has the potential to inhibit PTP1B activity
RF Rocha, T Rodrigues, ACO Menegatti, GJL Bernardes, H Terenzi
– Bioorg Chem
Continuous Flow Reactors from Microfluidic Compartmentalization of Enzymes within Inorganic Microparticles.
T Hakala, F Bialas, Z Toprakcioglu, B Bräuer, KN Baumann, A Levin, GJL Bernardes, CFW Becker, TPJ Knowles
– ACS Appl Mater Interfaces
Precise Installation of Diazo-Tagged Side-Chains on Proteins to Enable In Vitro and In-Cell Site-Specific Labeling
B Bernardim, L Dunsmore, H Li, B Hocking, R Nuñez-Franco, CD Navo, G Jiménez-Osés, ACB Burtoloso, GJL Bernardes
– Bioconjugate chemistry
Tetrazine carbon nanotubes for pretargeted in vivo 'click-to-release' bioorthogonal tumour imaging.
H Li, J Conde, A Guerreiro, GJL Bernardes
– Angew Chem Int Ed Engl
Platinum-triggered Bond-cleavage of Pentynoyl amide and N-propargyl handles for Drug-Activation
BL Oliveira, BJ Stenton, VB Unnikrishnan, CR de Almeida, J Conde, M Negrão, FSS Schneider, C Cordeiro, MG Ferreira, GF Caramori, JB Domingos, R Fior, GJL Bernardes
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Alkynyl Benzoxazines and Dihydroquinazolines as Cysteine Targeting Covalent Warheads and Their Application in Identification of Selective Irreversible Kinase Inhibitors
K McAulay, EA Hoyt, M Thomas, M Schimpl, MS Bodnarchuk, HJ Lewis, D Barratt, D Bhavsar, DM Robinson, MJ Deery, DJ Ogg, GJL Bernardes, RA Ward, MJ Waring, JG Kettle
– J Am Chem Soc
Machine learning for target discovery in drug development
T Rodrigues, GJL Bernardes
– Current opinion in chemical biology
A sweet galactose transfer - Metabolic oligosaccharide engineering as a tool to study glycans in Plasmodium infection
A Kitowski, GJL Bernardes
– Chembiochem : a European journal of chemical biology
A Microfluidic Co-Flow Route for Human Serum Albumin-Drug-Nanoparticle Assembly.
TA Hakala, S Davies, Z Toprakcioglu, B Bernardim, GJL Bernardes, TPJ Knowles
– Chemistry: A European Journal
Brain-Sparing Sympathofacilitators Mitigate Obesity without Adverse Cardiovascular Effects.
I Mahú, A Barateiro, E Rial-Pensado, N Martinéz-Sánchez, SH Vaz, PMSD Cal, B Jenkins, T Rodrigues, C Cordeiro, MF Costa, R Mendes, E Seixas, MMA Pereira, N Kubasova, V Gres, I Morris, C Temporão, M Olivares, Y Sanz, A Koulman, F Corzana, AM Sebastião, M López, GJL Bernardes, AI Domingos
– Cell Metab
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Research Group

Research Interest Groups

Telephone number

01223 336305

Email address


Trinity Hall