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Department of Chemistry

David Phillips Fellow
Jenny completed her PhD in bioinorganic chemistry at the University of Sydney, Australia, with a brief stint at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she developed redox active platinum-based anti-cancer agents and studied their biodistribtion/metabolism within tumour models. She then became a Marie Curie Incoming International Fellow at the University of Cambridge, working with Prof Erwin Reisner to explore how biocatalysts can be exploited to generate solar fuels. In particular, she worked on developing strategies to re-wire oxidoreductases, such as the water-oxidation enzyme photosystem II, to electrodes/semiconductors/other proteins in an emerging field known as 'semi-artificial photosynthesis'. She has just been awarded a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship and started her independent group in 2018 at the Department of Chemistry. Here, she continues her work on re-wiring photosynthesis, but taking it to another level of complexity - in live cells!
Research interests
Semi-artificial photosynthesis, (photo)electrochemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, chemical biology, materials chemistry, 3D-printing, biofilm chemistry
Current research
Photosynthetic micro-organisms such as cyanobacterial and algae are one of the oldest and most abundant life forms on Earth. They played a profound role in tera-transforming our planet and giving rise to the complex life forms we have today. In the process, they have evolved impressive machinery for converting sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into complex organic matter. As such, scientists of all disciplines are trying to understand and exploit their complex chemistry to benefit agriculture, the environment, and even to provide clean energy.
Research in our lab aims to develop chemical methods for understanding how photosynthetic microorganisms can be used to generate electricity (in what is known as biophotovoltaics) and solar chemicals. The approach is highly multi-disciplinary and involves bridging materials chemistry with chemical biology and synthetic biology. By developing tools to understand how natural photosynthetic systems can be interfaced with synthetic materials for energy and charge transfer, the productivity of microorganisms in general may be better harnessed in the near future to do more useful chemistry.
Applications from interested students and postdoctoral researchers to join the group are welcome.


Rational wiring of photosystem II to hierarchical indium tin oxide electrodes using redox polymers
KP Sokol, D Mersch, V Hartmann, JZ Zhang, MM Nowaczyk, M Rögner, A Ruff, W Schuhmann, N Plumeré, E Reisner
– Energy & Environmental Science
Wiring of Photosystem II to Hydrogenase for Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting
D Mersch, C-Y Lee, JZ Zhang, K Brinkert, JC Fontecilla-Camps, AW Rutherford, E Reisner
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
A Si photocathode protected and activated with a Ti and Ni composite film for solar hydrogen production
Y-H Lai, HS Park, JZ Zhang, PD Matthews, DS Wright, E Reisner
– Chemistry (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany)
Protein film photoelectrochemistry of the water oxidation enzyme photosystem II
M Kato, JZ Zhang, N Paul, E Reisner
– Chem. Soc. Rev.
Influence of Equatorial and Axial Carboxylato Ligands on the Kinetic Inertness of Platinum(IV) Complexes in the Presence of Ascorbate and Cysteine and within DLD-1 Cancer Cells
CKJ Chen, JZ Zhang, JB Aitken, TW Hambley
– Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
Facile Preparation of Mono-, Di- and Mixed-Carboxylato Platinum(IV) Complexes for Versatile Anticancer Prodrug Design
JZ Zhang, P Bonnitcha, E Wexselblatt, AV Klein, Y Najajreh, D Gibson, TW Hambley
– Chemistry
Getting to the core of platinum drug bio-distributions: the penetration of anti-cancer platinum complexes into spheroid tumour models.
JZ Zhang, NS Bryce, A Lanzirotti, CKJ Chen, D Paterson, MD de Jonge, DL Howard, TW Hambley
– Metallomics : integrated biometal science
The use of spectroscopic imaging and mapping techniques in the characterisation and study of DLD-1 cell spheroid tumour models.
JZ Zhang, NS Bryce, R Siegele, EA Carter, D Paterson, MD de Jonge, DL Howard, CG Ryan, TW Hambley
– Integrative biology : quantitative biosciences from nano to macro
Quantitative measurement of the reduction of platinum(iv) complexes using X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy (XANES)
MD Hall, HL Daly, JZ Zhang, M Zhang, RA Alderden, D Pursche, GJ Foran, TW Hambley
– Metallomics
Pt(iv) analogs of oxaliplatin that do not follow the expected correlation between electrochemical reduction potential and rate of reduction by ascorbate
JZ Zhang, E Wexselblatt, TW Hambley, D Gibson
– Chem Commun (Camb)
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