Department of Biochemistry University of Oxford Department of Biochemistry
University of Oxford
South Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3QU

Tel: +44 (0)1865 613200
Fax: +44 (0)1865 613201
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Professor Iain Campbell
Professor Iain Campbell Mark Sansom, Head of the Department, remembers Iain Campbell in an obituary in Structure. Professor Campbell, an outstanding figure in structural biology who joined the department in 1970, passed away in March. Published: 16 April 2014
Latest Publications
Some of the latest publications to come from the Department are listed here Published: 2 April 2014
'A Case of Crystal Clarity' animation launched with researchers' input
A Still from the Oxford Sparks animation Professor Elspeth Garman and her DPhil student Jonny Brooks-Bartlett have joined up with Oxford Sparks to create a new animation about X-ray crystallography Published: 31 March 2014
Review celebrates achievements and future developments in X-ray crystallography
Crystallography Review Professor Elspeth Garman's invited review in a recent special issue of Science charts the history of X-ray crystallography and looks forward to how challenges may be overcome by current and future developments Published: 20 March 2014

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Athena Swan Bronze Award


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The Department of Biochemistry

Welcome to the Department of Biochemistry, part of the University of Oxford's Medical Sciences Division. We are one of the largest Biochemistry departments in the world and carry out world-class research and teaching. Our researchers come from a range of disciplines and work in a collaborative environment on all aspects of modern molecular and cellular biochemistry. We hope you enjoy reading more about our activities on these pages.

Professor Mark Sansom, Head of Department

News Highlight

New tentacle method captures tumour cells with increased efficiency

Cartoon illustrating affibody polymers for capture of tumour cells

Cartoon illustrating affibody polymers for capture of tumour cells (Click to enlarge)

The development of an improved ‘superglue’ technology by Dr Mark Howarth and his group could help in cell capture approaches aimed at detecting and treating cancer.

Dr Howarth together with DPhil students Gianluca Veggiani and Jacob Fierer have published their work in PNAS (1). They describe the new tool, developed from an earlier approach in which they engineered a stable interaction that could be used to lock molecules together.

The original method, SpyTag/SpyCatcher, was published in 2012 (2) and has already found a number of uses. It was developed from an adhesion protein found in Streptococcus pyogenes which locks itself together. The group took a domain of the protein and split it into two parts to create protein-peptide ligation between a peptide tag (SpyTag) and a protein domain (SpyCatcher).

As a covalent and irreversible interaction, the SpyTag/SpyCatcher ligation has a major advantage over other types of engineered interactions. But it also has a drawback which the new system addresses.

‘The protein domain is quite big and may interfere with protein folding and function,’ explains Gianluca Veggiani. ‘In the new scenario, we split the domain into 3 partners – two peptide tags and a protein domain. The protein domain is only required to catalyse the reaction and form the bond.’

With this bulky domain required only transiently now, the new system, called ‘SpyLigase’, allows assemblies of proteins to be built up.

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PhD Studentships

BBSRC Industrial Case Studentship


Keep in touch with the Department


Departmental Seminar Professor Kazuhiro Maeshima, 'Chromatin fluctuation in live mammalian cells' Tuesday 22nd Apr, 11:00 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series Dr. Chen Song, 'Ion Permeation in K+ Channels Occurs by Direct Coulomb Knock-On' Thursday 24th Apr, 14:00 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building
Inaugural Louise Johnson Memorial Lecture Professor Sir Tom Blundell, FRS, FMedSci, '"Genomes, Structural Biology and Drug Discovery: Fighting Resistance in Cancer and Tuberculosis"' Thursday 1st May, 16:00 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series Jemma Trick, 'Designing Hydrophobic Gates into Biomimetic Nanopores' Wednesday 14th May, 17:00 Main Meeting Room, New Biochemistry Building

All Seminars