Richard Hopkinson

Understanding the functional role of formaldehyde in health and disease

Research summary

My research is focused on understanding how reactions between biomolecules and reactive small molecules, most notably formaldehyde, affect biological systems in health and disease. Formaldehyde, the simplest aldehyde, is a highly-reactive and often toxic electrophile that is a by-product of enzymatic demethylation reactions in human cells. The mechanisms underpinning formaldehyde toxicity are poorly understood, which is likely a consequence of its complex and uncharacterised reactivity with biomolecules, often involving unstable intermediates. My research uses chemical/synthetic, biochemical and cellular methods to identify and characterise the complex biologically relevant chemistry of formaldehyde with biomolecules. Ultimately, we hope to define the mechanisms underpinning formaldehyde homeostasis and biology in health and disease.

Key publications 

Group members

Natasha Bulman, Sara Chothia, Vicki Emms.