Institute for Structural and Chemical Biology

About the Institute

The University of Leicester has a long history of using structural biology to answer challenging questions in biology and accelerate drug discovery. We do so using different techniques, each able to address different questions and generate 3D structures of biomolecules in detail. The latest such technique is our state-of-the-art Cryo-EM facility, which complements our outstanding NMR and crystallography capabilities.

State-of-the-art single molecule microscopes are being developed within the Institute for Structural and Chemical Biology, to investigate complex and dynamic biological processes. These approaches complement the structural biology and allow us to address questions that are beyond the reach of other methods, including the nature of the dynamic processes through which large biological complexes are assembled. 

Our researchers in chemistry and biology are increasingly working together to improve our understanding of the workings of life. Our researchers use chemistry to develop probes and tools to explore biological systems – providing a ‘chemical view’ of human biology. By exploiting this chemistry, we are able to manipulate macromolecular function and activity. This is important for both drug development and the development of research tools. Examples are exploring the biological role of formaldehyde, a natural but little-studied product of several important biological reactions in cells, along with exploring the therapeutic role of chemicals that stabilise protective protein-protein interactions.

The Institute for Structural and Chemical Biology includes experts engaged in work that could ultimately lead to new medical treatments, securing support from pharmaceutical companies and other funders. GlaxoSmithKline has awarded funding to researchers developing molecules targeting lymphocytic leukaemia.

The Institute leads are Professor John Schwabe (Director) and Professor Andrew Hudson (Deputy Director).

Enterprise strategy

We have three aims at the Institute that underpin our enterprise strategy, and allow us to identify priority projects and provide targeted support to enhance the progression of projects with existing industry partners.

  1. Build engagement and understanding of industry interactions, e.g. through events
  2. Cultivate new industry relations
  3. Anticipate and encourage potential industry collaborations

Essential Enterprise

Essential Enterprise events aim to build an understanding of industry collaboration. This is achieved by:

  • Presentations both from peers who are already collaborating with industry, and from the companies themselves.
  • Information on the changing landscape of UK research funding and new opportunities and schemes related to industry funding.

Sessions have included presentations from Sygnature, LifeArc and AstraZeneca.

Bench 2 Business

The aim of this initiative is provide touchpoints for our academics to engage with industry.  A first event was held in 2017 with commercial partners to allow us to demonstrate our capabilities, expertise and facilities.

In 2020 we produced seven films to reach out to industry partners instead. 

Watch the films.

Leicester Splicing and Epigenetics Club

In 2017 we held a Leicester Splicing and Epigenetics club, an academic / industry forum between pharmaceutical companies and the members of the Institute with the aims:

  • To provide a focus point for companies with a particular interest in splicing to discuss current challenges and future needs in this area
  • An opportunity for companies to learn about the latest scientific advances in the field by accessing Institute members expertise
  • Enhancing the Institute's efficiency and collaboration capabilities in future academic research as companies will be able to provide feedback

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