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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.


A fully human anti-IL-7Rα antibody promotes antitumor activity against T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
P Akkapeddi, R Fragoso, JA Hixon, AS Ramalho, ML Oliveira, T Carvalho, A Gloger, M Matasci, F Corzana, SK Durum, D Neri, GJL Bernardes, JT Barata
– Leukemia
Contemporary approaches to site-selective protein modification
EA Hoyt, PMSD Cal, BL Oliveira, GJL Bernardes
– Nature Reviews Chemistry
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
Structure-Based Design of Potent Tumor-Associated Antigens: Modulation of Peptide Presentation by Single-Atom O/S or O/Se Substitutions at the Glycosidic Linkage
I Compañón, A Guerreiro, V Mangini, J Castro-López, M Escudero-Casao, A Avenoza, JH Busto, S Castillón, J Jiménez-Barbero, JL Asensio, G Jiménez-Osés, O Boutureira, JM Peregrina, R Hurtado-Guerrero, R Fiammengo, GJL Bernardes, F Corzana
– J Am Chem Soc
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
Efficient and irreversible antibody–cysteine bioconjugation using carbonylacrylic reagents
B Bernardim, MJ Matos, X Ferhati, I Compañón, A Guerreiro, P Akkapeddi, ACB Burtoloso, G Jiménez-Osés, F Corzana, GJL Bernardes
– Nature Protocols
Lysine Bioconjugation on Native Albumin with a Sulfonyl Acrylate Reagent
MJ Matos, G Jiménez-Osés, GJL Bernardes
– Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)
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
– Org Biomol Chem
Protein engineering through chemical, genetic and computational manipulation.
I Hamachi, GJL Bernardes
– Chemical Society Reviews
Bioorthogonal Decaging Reactions for Targeted Drug Activation.
S Davies, BJ Stenton, GJL Bernardes
– CHIMIA International Journal for Chemistry
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Research Group

Research Interest Groups

Telephone number

01223 336305

Email address


Trinity Hall