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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.


Overexpression of Osmosensitive Ca2+-Permeable Channel TMEM63B Promotes Migration in HEK293T Cells.
MC Marques, IS Albuquerque, SH Vaz, GJL Bernardes
– Biochemistry
Tetrazine-Triggered Release of Carboxylic-Acid-Containing Molecules for Activation of an Anti-inflammatory Drug
S Davies, L Qiao, BL Oliveira, CD Navo, G Jiménez-Osés, GJL Bernardes
– ChemBioChem
Triaminopyrimidine derivatives as transmembrane HCl transporters
P Motloch, A Guerreiro, CQ Azeredo, GJL Bernardes, CA Hunter, I Kocsis
– Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry
Natural product–drug conjugates for modulation of TRPV1-expressing tumors
C Baker, T Rodrigues, BP de Almeida, NL Barbosa-Morais, GJL Bernardes
– Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry
Dissecting celastrol with machine learning to unveil dark pharmacology
T Rodrigues, BP de Almeida, NL Barbosa-Morais, GJL Bernardes
– Chemical Communications
Quaternization of Vinyl/Alkynyl Pyridine Enables Ultrafast Cysteine-Selective Protein Modification and Charge Modulation.
MJ Matos, CD Navo, T Hakala, X Ferhati, A Guerreiro, D Hartmann, B Bernardim, KL Saar, I Compañón, F Corzana, TPJ Knowles, G Jiménez-Osés, GJL Bernardes
– Angewandte Chemie - International Edition
Computational advances in combating colloidal aggregation in drug discovery
D Reker, GJL Bernardes, T Rodrigues
– Nature Chemistry
Synthesis, Characterization and Biological Evaluation of New Manganese Metal Carbonyl Compounds That Contain Sulfur and Selenium Ligands as a Promising New Class of CORMs
AL Amorim, MM Peterle, A Guerreiro, DF Coimbra, RS Heying, GF Caramori, AL Braga, AJ Bortoluzzi, A Neves, GJL Bernardes, RA Peralta
– Dalton Transactions
Azabicyclic Vinyl Sulfones for Residue-specific Dual Protein Labelling
E Gil de Montes, E Jiménez-Moreno, BL Oliveira, CD Navo, PMSD Cal, G Jiménez-Osés, I Robina, AJ Moreno-Vargas, GJL Bernardes
– Chem Sci
Norbornene Probes for the Detection of Cysteine Sulfenic Acid in Cells.
LJ Alcock, BL Oliveira, MJ Deery, TL Pukala, MV Perkins, GJL Bernardes, JM Chalker
– ACS Chemical Biology
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Research Group

Research Interest Groups

Telephone number

01223 336305

Email address


Trinity Hall