School of Chemistry

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Bruce Turnbull

Associate Professor
Member of the Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry group

Contact details

Room: G14
Tel: +44 (0)113 3437438


Carbohydrate Chemistry
Protein-Carbohydrate Interactions
Multivalent Interactions
Synthetic Biology

Photograph of Bruce Turnbull

Research interests

My interests lie at the interface of carbohydrate chemistry and molecular glycobiology. In our work we combine synthetic chemistry and biophysical techniques to study carbohydrate-binding proteins. Although such interactions are essential for many normal biological processes, they also facilitate viral and bacterial infection, cancer metastasis, and entry into cells by bacterial toxin proteins. We are investigating the interactions between cholera toxin and cell surface oligosaccharides, and using this information to design small molecule inhibitors of cholera toxin using fragment-based approaches. We are also studying the mechanisms by which this pentavalent protein interacts with large multivalent inhibitors based on dendrimers. We aim to harness these multivalent aggregation processes to create novel nanoscale materials. Although much of our work is directed towards understanding biology at the molecular level, synthetic chemistry remains our major research activity. We are developing novel methods for the stereoselective synthesis of oligosaccharides and investigating the mechanisms of neighbouring group participation in carbohydrate chemistry.

Useful links


Selected publications

D. J. Williamson, M. A. Fascione, M. E. Webb and W. B. Turnbull, Efficient N-terminal labeling of proteins by use of sortase, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2012, 51, 9377-9380.

P. K. Mandal, T. R. Branson, E. D. Hayes, J. F. Ross, J. A. Gavín, A. H. Daranas and W. B. Turnbull, Towards a structural basis for the relationship between blood group and the severity of El Tor cholera, Angew. Chem.Int. Ed. 2012, 51, 5143-5146.

M. A. Fascione, S. J. Adshead, P. K. Mandal, C. A. Kilner, A. G. Leach and W. B. Turnbull, Studies on the mechanism of a sulfoxide transfer reaction mediated by diphenyl sulfoxide-triflic anhydride, Chem. Eur. J. 2012, 18, 2987-2997.

M. A. Fascione, C. A. Kilner, A. G. Leach and W. B. Turnbull, Do glycosyl sulfonium ions engage in neighbouring group participation? A study of oxathiane glycosyl donors and the basis for their stereoselectivity, Chem. Eur. J., 2012, 18, 321-333.