School of Pharmacy

Staff Profile

Dr Jon Sellars

Lecturer in Medicinal Chemistry


Dr Jon Sellars is a Lecturer in Medicinal chemistry at the School of Pharmacy and the Institute of Cellular Medicine at Newcastle University. 

He gained a PhD with Prof. Patrick Steel at Durham University investigating the utility of silacyclohex-4-enes in organic synthesis. Subsequent employment at Sanofi-Aventis in Alwnick working on radio labelling active pharmaceutical ingredients was followed by a return to Durham University, to undertake a post doctoral position with Prof. Patrick Steel and Prof Robert Edwards investigating multiple herbicide resistance in black grass (supported by Syngenta).

In 2010, Jon was awarded an EPSRC Life Sciences Interface Fellowship to develop novel proteomic probes to study cytochrome P450's. After completion, Jon undertook a teaching fellowship at Durham University where in 2015 was appointed to a lectureship in medicinal chemistry at the School of Pharmacy. In August 2017 the School was transferred to Newcastle University resulting in the creation of the School of Pharmacy.

Areas of expertise

  • Organic Synthesis
  • Proteomics
  • Chemical Biology

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Our group has a range of research interests that lie on the chemical biology interface, from developing novel chemical small molecule probes, inhibitors and delivery vehicles to the discovery and application of new synthetic methodology for their construction. All this, provides us with the tools to challenge and answer important biological questions.

Chemical Biology

Anti-bacterial agents

Antibiotics are the leading treatment for bacterial infections, with their discovery heralding the ability to cure previously untreatable infections. However, our reliance and miss-use over a 75-year period has brought about the prevalence of multi drug resistant bacteria which is driving a global resistance problem. As a result, we are engaged in a number of projects focussing on the discovery of new anti-bacterials targeting either gram positive, gram negative or mycolata bacteria.

Activity-based probes for profiling cytochrome P450’s

Cytochrome P450s (CYP450s) constitute a large family of haem-centred enzymes, with fundamental roles in the biotransformation of endogenous (steroid hormones, fatty acids, prostaglandins) and exogenous molecules (drugs, environmental chemicals, agrochemicals). As a direct result of their importance, particularly in xenobiotic and drug metabolism, a great deal of research has been conducted into the roles, identification of their sequences and their catalytic mechanism. Whilst a number of CYP450s, particularly human liver CYP450s and extra-hepatic CYP450s (i.e. CYP1A1, CYP1B1 and CYP2W1) have been the subject of intense investigation, much is still to be learnt from these mixed-function oxidases. As a result, new approaches to identifying, evaluating and quantifying functionally active CYP450s are of the upmost importance. Our group focuses on the development of new activity-based probes to study and identify this enzyme class.

Metal organic Frameworks

Metal-Organic-FrameworkS (MOFS) are polymeric, three dimensional, structures comprising metal nodes (e.g. Ag, Au, Fe) with interconnecting organic strands (e.g. bi-arylbenzoic acids). The hydridisation of the organic strands contributes significantly to the framework architecture often leading to accessible internal cavernous space that has recently drawn significant attention in current research directives. Sequestration of compounds into these cavities, such as CO2 and small molecule drugs has opened up the possibility for new applications in carbon capture and drug delivery systems. To this end, it is our intention to address the issues (e.g. leaky cavities, biocompatibility) surrounding drug delivery applications through the synthesis of novel MOFS incorporating high pressure cross linking subunits to prevent leaking and the development of new metal nodes and clusters to combat biocompatibility.