Category Archives: News

Professor Davis awarded an ERC Advanced Grant

Tony will receive € 2.5 million funding for his project After GluHUT – A New Era for Synthetic Carbohydrate Receptors (POSTGLUHUT) which aims to transform the lives of diabetics.

Molecules which bind carbohydrates can have a range of medical uses. An important example is the application of glucose-binding molecules in glucose monitors for diabetics, and potentially in glucose-sensitive insulin which becomes more active as glucose levels increase. Our group recently developed a glucose-binding molecule called “GluHUT” (Glucose-binding Hexaurea Temple) which turns out to be remarkably effective. This ERC-funded project, “POSTGLUHUT”, aims to exploit GluHUT in a number of new ways, and also to develop the underlying science so that other carbohydrates can be targeted.

Congratulations Tony! More details can be found here: Bristol Chemistry

Congratulations to Dr. Claire Webster!

We are pleased to congratulate Claire on passing her viva lately. Clarie was a helpful senior student in the group and has started her career in a patent company in Southampton. We wish her having a good future and will miss her when having a Poutine in Colston😜.

Congratulations Alberto!

Congratulations to Alberto for passing his PhD viva (from lockdown), definitely a first for the Davis group! Alberto has been an integral part of our group and his knowledge and presence are already greatly missed. We wish him all the best for the future!

Ziylo is acquired by Novo Nordisk

Ziylo is a spin-out company founded by Davis group ex-member Harry Destecroix and Tony, it is based in Bristol’s scientific incubator Unit DX and it is focused in the development of  biomimetic glucose binding molecules. It was recently announced that the company has been acquired by global healthcare company Novo Nordisk in a deal that could exceed US$800 million. 

The acquisition gives Novo Nordisk full rights to Ziylo’s glucose binding molecule platform to develop glucose responsive insulins (GRIs). The development of this technology is a key strategic area for Novo Nordisk in its effort to develop this next generation of insulin, which would lead to a safer and more effective insulin therapy.

Prior to closing of the acquisition, certain research activities have been spun out of Ziylo to a new company, Carbometrics, which has entered into research collaboration with Novo Nordisk. This will assist with ongoing optimisation of glucose binding molecules for use in GRIs. Carbometrics has licensed rights to develop non-therapeutic applications of glucose binding molecules, with a focus on developing continuous glucose monitoring applications.

More can be read in these links:

Congratulations to Shermi, Pat, Chris and Rob!

Congratulations to Shermi, Pat, Chris and Rob for passing their PhD vivas. Chris has been recently appointed as Publishing editor at the RSC and Rob has started his job as Senior scientist at Carbometrics. We also welcome Danny Van Eker to the group.

Tony wins the RSC Physical Organic Chemistry Award 2015

Tony has been awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Physical Organic Chemistry Award for 2015. It is a biennially award, including a medal, cash prize and a UK lecture tour. The award was previously known as the Sir Christopher Ingold Lectureship and was founded in 1973 to commemorate Sir Ingold, the president of the RSC 1952-54.

Awarded for creative design and study of innovative functional molecular architectures, such as carbohydrate receptors and transmembrane anion transporters.

Tony Davis gained a B.A. in Chemistry from Oxford University in 1977, then stayed on for a D.Phil. under Dr. G. H. Whitham and two years’ postdoctoral work with Prof. J. E. Baldwin. In 1981 he moved to the ETH Zürich as a Royal Society European Exchange Fellow working with Prof. A. Eschenmoser, then in 1982 was appointed as a Lecturer in Organic Chemistry at Trinity College, Dublin. In September 2000 he moved to the University of Bristol, where he is Professor of Supramolecular Chemistry in the School of Chemistry. In 2002 he was awarded the Tilden Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He is currently a member of the Editorial Board of Organic and Biological Chemistry.

After some early work on synthetic methodology, especially the use of organosilicon reagents, the Davis group’s research has focused on supramolecular chemistry. A particular aim is the design of functional molecules which are both inspired by, and competitive with, biology.

Two areas which align with this theme are:

(i) Biomimetic carbohydrate recognition; the selective binding of carbohydrates under aqueous conditions by synthetic receptors, employing strategies analogous to those used by carbohydrate-binding proteins.

(ii) The recognition and transport of inorganic anions; the design, synthesis and study of molecules which bind inorganic anions strongly and selectively, and are able to carry their substrates across cell membranes. The group also has a newer programme on the crystal engineering of nanoporous solids (the design of organic molecules forming crystals with nanometer-scale pores). A company “Ziylo” has been founded to exploit the group’s work on carbohydrate sensing.

More details here: RSC Website

David Madariaga visits

840149David_MadariagaWe welcome David Madariaga as a visiting postdoctoral researcher, he will be working with us for 3 months, learning about synthetic lectins. This is building on studies during his PhD at University of La Rioja (Spain), on the recognition of MUC1 glycopeptides by natural lectins and the role played by the carbohydrate connected amino acids.

RSC Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry Meeting 2014

Hennie poster Shanghai ISMSCShortly before Christmas the RSC Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry Meeting took place in Norwich. It is a key meeting for our field, to which some representatives of the group usually attend. This year was no exception, with Hennie and Tom making the trip to Dunston Hall. The meeting included plenary talks from speakers including Stephan Matile, Oren Sherman, Makoto Fujita, Phil Gale and David Smith. In addition to these, many flash talks were given, including one by our own Hennie. There was a packed poster session on the first evening which saw both Tom and Hennie present their work, and we are pleased to congratulate Hennie on winning a runner-up poster prize!

Welcome to Joa Zhao and Blanca Alonso Jimenez

We welcome Joa Zhao and Blanca Alonso Jimenez for the new academic year.

Joa Zhao
Joa is joining us on an MRes program to work on carbohydrate recognition. She gained her undergraduate degree at Tianjin University, China and completed a research project on the topic of natural polymers with Prof. Jianping Gao.

Blanca Alonso Jimenez
Blanca is joining us an Erasmus placement, working on informational self-replication systems, as part of her undergraduate degree at the University of Salamanca, Spain.

Congratulations and Farewell to Dr James Cooper

15759_10152481021640857_7909850091232059156_nWe congratulate the newly qualified Dr James Cooper and wish him farewell! He has moved to an ERC funded post-doctoral position with Dr Scott Cockroft in University of Edinburgh. He is working on DNA based molecular machines (bionanotechnology) as well as investigating molecular interactions using molecular balances (physical organic/synthetic supramolecular chemistry).

Welcome to the new undergraduate project students

As a new academic year begins we are pleased to welcome Blanca Alonso Jimenez, Hamish Clark, Lucy Primmer and Toby Playfair into the group. Blanca is a visiting Spanish student visiting us through the Erasmus programme. Hamish, Lucy and Toby are MSCi students from within the university completing final year research projects.

Blanca Alonso Jimenez (Erasmus)

Hamish Clark (MSci)

Lucy Primmer (MSci)

Toby Playfair (MSci)


Rob Tromans and Chris Dias join the group

avatar_robert-tromans avatar_chris-diasWe are happy to announce that Rob Tromans and Chris Dias have joined the group. Rob will be working on synthetic lectins and Chris on anion transport. They join us as part of the Chemical Synthesis CDT, having completed 8 months of extensive training, including three 7 week research placements in different groups within the department (both spending one in Davis group).

Charley Renney wins prize

We are pleased to announce that Charley Renney won a prize for his research talk in the organic and biological chemistry section final year seminars. He was deemed to give one of the three best presentations from approximately 25 contestants.

This is a good streak for the Davis group, with James Cooper having won one last year.

Welcome to Micke Lisbjerg

7020b9dee7Micke Lisbjerg is joining us on a 6 month placement as part of his PhD at University of Copenhagen. While Micke is working with us in the area of carbohydrate recognition, he has extensive experience studying macrocyclic anion binders, which should make for some good discussion. He has his own bio page here (though we’ve not yet managed to extract a photo from him!).

MASC 2013 – Glasgow

This years RSC Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry meeting was held in Glasgow. Organised by Prof. Lee Cronin, the conference was a great opportunity for the 250 delegates to share knowledge and get to know colleagues in the field. We had a good contingent of our group in attendance, with Tom, Harry, Ash, Patrick, James, Pablo, Tiddo and Hennie making the trip. Tiddo and James presented posters with Hennie being chosen for a flash presentation.


New Group Members

As the new academic year begins we have recruited some new members to our group. We have Patrick Stewart, having completed an undergraduate project with us, he returns as a PhD student. Pablo Rios is joining us from Seville, on a scholarship to complete a Master of Science by Research degree. And finally we have four undergraduate students, Abigail Thorne, Joshua Phillips, Marcus Farnfield and Tom Meadley, working on research projects as a part of their degrees.

Patrick Stewart (PhD)

Pablo Rios (MRes)

Abigail Thorne (MSci)

Joshua Phillips (MSci)

Marcus Farnfield (MSci)

Tom Meadley (BSc)


Goodbye to Lydia Bridgland


We say goodbye to Lydia as her PhD comes to a finish. But wish her good luck with her prestigious new new job at Deloitte, one of the ‘Big Four’ professional services companies, maintaining the largest professional services network in the world. She will be training to become a Chartered Accountant, but fortunately will still be based in Bristol.

Harry and James present at ISMSC-8 in Arlington, Virginia

Conference group shot

This year’s 8th International Symposium on Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry (ISMSC) held in Arlington, Virginia, USA proved to be an impressive event. The symposium was held over 4 days and attracted a world-wide audience of academics from the field. Cutting edge and inspirational talks were given by renowned speakers such as Sir Fraser Stoddart (Northwestern University, US), Eric V. Anslyn (University of Texas, US) and Tomoki Ogoshi (Kanazawa Univeristy, Japan). Standout talks were also presented from upcoming researchers, Chenfung Ke (Northwestern University, US) and Guillaume De Bo (University of Manchester).



James and Harry’s posters were presented with more than 250 other posters, of which the quality of research presented was exceptionally high. Over the three days 25 posters were selected for the final poster competition which took place on day four. Harry was selected by the judges to be one of the 25 finalists which was a great achievement considering the volume and level of research presented.
Harry in America
All in all the symposium turned out to be a great event, and our thanks go out to this year’s hosts, Lyle Isaacs and Jeffery Davis of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Maryland and Amar Flood of the Department of Chemistry at Indiana University.

We look forward to next year’s ISMSC due to be held in Shanghai China.

Congratulations to Ashley Brewer on his new job!

Ashley BrewerWe say goodbye to Ashley Brewer as he finishes in our group as a postdoc, but he is not going far. Moving over to the Physics department of Bath University, he will be employed as Undergraduate Laboratory and Safety Coordinator. He will be responsible for both overseeing and organising the undergraduate labs, and dealing with health and safety issues for the entire department. We wish him the best in his new position!

Chemistry 5-a-side League: Recepticons Mobilise

Each summer a friendly 5-a-side football league is organised within the department. This year there are 12 teams representing their labs or research areas, spanning biochemistry, organic, inorganic, materials and physical chemistry. This year for the first time we have a team representing the Davis group and Supramolecular chemistry. It is made up of Germinal, Harry, Ben, Tiddo, Charley and Tom.

We are the Recepticons!

Team Photo

Team Logo

Ash Griffith joins the group

ashWe are happy to announce that Ashleigh Griffith has chosen to join our group as a PhD student working on a Carbohydrate Recognition project. Ash joins us as part of the Chemical Synthesis CDT, having completed 8 months of extensive training, including three 7 week research placements in different groups within the department.

Ashleigh graduated from the University of Southampton with an MChem. For her third year project, she worked with Dr. Eugen Stulz exploring the gelling parameters of a compound containing terpyridine and carboxylic acid moieties, which formed a strong supramolecular hydrogel. In her fourth year Ashleigh worked at BioFocus in a six-month industrial placement, where she carried out Structure Activity Relationship (SAR) investigations in the ‘hit-to-lead’ phase of drug discovery.

A visit from Chenfeng Ke

chenfengWe have been fortunate enough to have Dr Chenfeng Ke pay us a visit. Chenfeng was a Newton International Fellow in the Davis group, before moving to post-doc with Fraser Stoddart in Northwestern University. He was involved in the Carbohydrate recognition project and played a key role in the discovery of the new anthracene based receptor design (Nature Chem 2012).

Since joining the Stoddart group Chenfeng has found a new way to construct complex multicomponent interlocked molecules by selective acceleration of uncatalysed “click reactions” (Angewandte 2013). The poster for the seminar he kindly gave us is shown below:

James Cooper Wins Research Talk Prize

jamesJames Cooper has won a prize for giving one of the best presentations in the school’s 3rd Year Organic & Biological Research Symposia. This represents a great achievement for both James and the group, as there were 23 talks given over 4 session’s and his was chosen by the judges to be one of the three best.

Congratulations James!

Personal webpages complete

We are pleased to announce that everybody’s personal webpages are now complete!

These can be accessed through the group drop down menu or by clicking on the group page pictures. Each postdoctoral and postgraduate researcher has a short bio explaining their history, a contact address and a list of publications.

Good luck to Patrick, Jenny and Shugantan

Now that the experimental part of their undergraduate research projects are complete, Patrick, Jenny and Shugantan are leaving the lab. We wish them the best of luck writing their theses and in their final year exams!

Patrick Stewart (MSci)

Jenny Gallagher (BSc)


Shugantan Sundramurthy (BSc)

Harry, Tiddo, Charley and Tom attend e-WISPOC 2013

We welcome Harry Destecroix, Tiddo Mooibroek, Charley Renney and Tom Carter back from the 2013 European-Winter School on Physical Organic Chemistry (e-WISPOC) in Bressanone, Italy. Organised by University of Padova, the conference covered theory, applications and methods in supramolecular chemistry. It was a great opportunity to hear speakers and meet peers from all across Europe. Harry and Tiddo presented flash talks and posters which gained considerable interest. COST action 1005 (Supramolecular chemistry in water) generously granted several bursary’s for the trip.

Tiddo explaining:

Harry presenting:

Charley, Tiddo, Harry and Tom (left to right) enjoying some free time:

Farewell to Miguel Gómez

We say farewell to Miguel as he has completes his 3 month placement away from University of Valencia.

Tiddo and Miguel

Thanks to group A.P. Davis for this opportunity, and especially my dear fellows Hennie, Tiddo Mooibroek, James Cooper, etc for your help and patience with my level English. Tiddo, I want revenge for filling me with snow, jajaja. – Miguel Gómez