ORGANIC CHEMISTS FOCUSED ON CARBOHYDRATE SYNTHESIS

GROUP MEMBERS

MEET MEMBERS OF MILLER RESEARCH GROUP

SENIOR EXPERIMENTAL OFFICER

Miller Research Group - Team Member - Dr Imlirenla Pongener

DR AISLING NÍ CHEALLAIGH

Aisling is from Kildare, Ireland and obtained her BSc in Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology at University College Dublin (UCD). She obtained an IRC scholarship to complete her PhD studies where she synthesised bacterial oligosaccharides towards synthetic vaccines under the supervision of Prof Stefan Oscarson at UCD. She then took up a PDRA position at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB) with Dr John Gardiner and Prof Nigel Scrutton working on chemoenzymatic synthesis of monoterpenoids. From here, she moved to a Senior Scientist role at AstraZeneca where she worked in Chemical Development of anticancer therapeutics before returning to academia for another PDRA in carbohydrate synthesis with Prof Oscarson at UCD. During this position, she spent time in Prof Gavin Miller’s group at Keele University as part of a Knowledge Exchange Partnership and focused on the synthesis of human oligosaccharides including glycosaminoglycans, blood group antigens and glycoconjugates thereof. During this time Aisling received Chartered Chemist (CChem) status with the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). Aisling then went on to a Research Fellow position at the Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub with Prof Nigel Scrutton, FRS at the MIB where she focused on downstream processing and biocatalysis. Here she obtained Chartered Scientist (CSci) status and a Project Management Qualification with the Association for Project Management. She started her current role as Senior Experimental Officer at Keele University in 2022. Aisling is a glyco-enthusiast and is heavily involved with the carbohydrate community through her roles as secretary for the RSC Carbohydrate Interest Group and as a Founding Member of the European Glycoscience Community.

POST-DOCTORAL RESEARCHERS

Miller Research Group - Team Member - Dr Imlirenla Pongener

DR JONATHAN DOLAN

Jonathan is from Reading, Berkshire and graduated with an MChem from Keele University in 2017. During his time at Keele, he completed 3rd and 4th year projects focussing on continuous flow iodination of enaminones and the chemical synthesis of GDP-α-D-ManUA. Jonathan moved to the University of Leeds in September 2017 to begin a PhD with Prof. Bruce Turnbull and Dr Mike Webb on developing site-specific methods for preparation of glycoconjugates supported by Iceni Glycoscience, Norwich, as part of an BBSRC White Rose DTP iCASE studentship award. Jonathan returned to the group in January 2022 where his research will focus on chemoenzymatic modification of glycosaminoglycans.

Miller Research Group - Team Member - Dr Imlirenla Pongener

DR TAPASI MANNA

Tapasi is from West Bengal, India. She completed her BSc from Midnapore College, Vidyasagar University, India. In 2016, she completed her MSc in Chemistry from University of Burdwan, India. She then pursued her PhD in the group of Anup Kumar Misra at the Bose Institute in India, where she recently completed her PhD in bacterial cell wall oligosaccharide synthesis and related methodology development. Tapasi joined the Miller group as a PDRA in June 2022, where her research is focused on heparan sulfate synthesis.

Miller Research Group - Team Member - Caecilie Benckendorff

DR CAECILIE BENCKENDORFF

Caecilie is from Aarhus, Denmark. She moved to the UK in 2010, and began her studies at the University of Aberdeen in 2013, where she graduated in 2018 with a first class MChem degree. Her final year MChem project was undertaken at the University of Bergen, which involved the synthesis for ligands for riboswitches – a newly discovered novel target for antibiotics. During her project, she successfully synthesised the compound Ribocil C, and one analogue. Caecilie completed her PhD in the group (2018-22) synthesising fluorinated carbocyclic nucleoside analogues in collaboration with Riboscience LLC. She has stayed with us to undertake a PDRA in biocatalytic nucleotide synthesis.

Miller Research Group - Team Member - Caecilie Benckendorff

DR SIAN BERRY

Sian is from Par, Cornwall. She studied at the University of Sheffield where she graduated in 2018 with a first class MChem degree. Her final year project was conducted within the research group of Prof Simon Jones, investigating organocatalysed asymmetric reduction. She continued in the Jones group to pursue a PhD in a related topic as part of an EPSRC funded industrial partnership with Redbrick Molecular. Sian joined the Miller group in November 2022 where her work focuses on the synthesis of chondroitin sulfates as components bioresponsive polymers, in collaboration with Dr Clare Mahon (Durham University) and Dr Elaine Ferguson (Cardiff University).  

Miller Research Group - Team Member - Caecilie Benckendorff

DR PETER SUNDE-BROWN

Peter is from the Gold Coast, Australia. He completed his B.BiomedSci (Hons) in 2017 at Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics, where he worked on phthalate derived natural product synthesis. Peter continued his studies at this facility, completing his PhD (2018-2022) in the research group of Assoc. Prof. Todd Houston. During this time he focused on the application of the Mitsunobu reaction on D-fructose, which led to the development of the potent carbohydrate cyclodehydration reagent Diphenoxytriphenylphosphorane and a practical large scale preparation of the valuable iminosugar 1-Deoxymannojirimycin. Peter joined the Miller group as a PDRA in April 2023, where his research is focused on nucleotide synthesis.

PhD STUDENTS – 4th YEAR

Miller Research Group - Team Member - Conor O'Shea

CONOR O’SHEA

Conor is from Cavan, Ireland. He studied in University College Dublin where he graduated in 2020 with a B.A. of science majoring in Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology. His final year research project involved synthesising catalysts in order to obtain more stereoselective control in glycosylation reactions.

Miller Research Group - Team Member - Hannah Wootton

HANNAH WOOTTON

Hannah is from Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire where she obtained a first class MChem degree from Keele University in 2019. At Keele, she undertook a final year research project which focused on the chemical synthesis of a non-self sugar-nucleotide tool for probing a bacterial biosynthesis enzyme. After graduation, she spent a year in industry as an Associate Scientist at Cyprotex where she planned and conducted ADME assays for compounds in the preclinical stages of pharmaceutical drug discovery. Hannah joined the group in September 2020 where her research focus investigates the chemical synthesis of oligosaccharide targets alongside new ligation technologies for their conjugation to fluorophores.

Miller Research Group - Team Member - Sean Evans

SEAN EVANS

Sean is from Liverpool and studied Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry at the University of St Andrews, graduating in 2018. He returned to St Andrews to complete an MSc (Res) advancing a synthesis towards the communesin natural products. Sean joined the group in January 2021 where his research will focus on using chemoenzymatic approaches to explore polysaccharide structure-property relationships, in conjunction with Unilever.

PhD STUDENTS – 3rd YEAR

Miller Research Group - Carbohydrate Tools

THIBAULT GUILLAUME

Thibault is from Annecy (France) and studied at the University of Lyon where he graduated in 2021 with a Masters degree in Organic Chemistry. During his final year research project he studied photocatalysed reactions in order to build chemical libraries. Thiabult joined the group in February 2022 where his research will focus on the synthesis of next-generation nucleoside analogues in collaboration with Riboscience LLC.

PhD STUDENTS – 2nd YEAR

Miller Research Group - Carbohydrate Tools

LIAM BEARDMORE

Liam is from Wrexham, Wales. He graduated from Bangor University in 2021 with a BSc in Chemistry with Industrial Experience. His year in industry was spent at Koura Global working in organic synthesis. In October 2021 he moved to Durham University to study for a 12-month MRes in the Brittain and Cobb groups. The focus of this study was using pentafluoropyridine to readily access acyl fluorides facilitating a one pot synthesis of esters and thioesters. Liam joined the group in October 2022 and is working on functionalization of cellulosic materials.   

Miller Research Group - Carbohydrate Tools

JACOB ROBERTS

Jacob is from Pontefract, West Yorkshire and graduated with a first class MChem degree from the University of York in 2022. His final year industrial placement was undertaken at Bayer Crop Science in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Jacob joined the group in September 2022 as a PhD student working on nucleoside analogue synthesis.

Miller Research Group - Carbohydrate Tools

LAUREN HOLDER

Lauren is from Newcastle upon Tyne and obtained a first class MChem degree from Keele University in 2022. During her final year research project, she studied nitroreductase biocatalysis for next generation therapeutic compounds with Dr Seb Cosgrove. Lauren joined the group in September 2022 where her research will focus on inhibiting sugar nucleotide transport to combat fungal infections, in collaboration with Syngenta.

PhD STUDENTS – 1st YEAR

Miller Research Group - Carbohydrate Tools

ADAM BLOOR

Adam is from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire and studied at Keele University, graduating in 2023 with a first class MChem degree in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry. During his undergraduate degree he undertook his final year project looking into the development of new synthetic approaches to L-Iduronic acid within the Miller Research Group. Adam remained in with the group for his PhD looking at the chemoenzymatic synthesis of nucleosides in collaboration with AstraZeneca..

MASTERS LEVEL

Miller Research Group - Glycoenzymes

ANASTASIYA GUMENYUK

Anastasiya is originally from Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine and moved to Burton-on-Trent in 2012. She studied at Keele from 2019, earning a BSc in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry with competency in Japanese. In 2023, she began an MRes in the group, concentrating on the chemical synthesis of 4′-thio-C-nucleosides.

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GROUP ALUMNI

Post-Doctoral

Miller Research Group - Carbohydrate Tools

DR SANAZ AHMADIPOUR

PDRA (2016-2019)

 Worked on the synthesis of sugar-nucleotide analogues

Now PDRA with Prof. Rob Field at MIB.

Miller Research Group - Carbohydrate Tools

DR AISLING NI CHEALLAIGH

PDRA (2017-2019)

Worked on the synthesis of oligosaccharide targets. Visiting researcher from Stefan Oscarson’s group at UCD

Now Research Fellow at Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub, MIB.

Miller Research Group - Carbohydrate Tools

DR MEENAKSHI SINGH

PDRA (2020-2021)

Worked on heparan sulfate oligosaccharide synthesis.

Now PDRA with Nikki Pohl (Indiana Bloomington)

 

Miller Research Group - Team Member - Dr Imlirenla Pongener

DR IMLIRENLA PONGENER

PDRA (2020-2023)

Worked on disaccharide building block methodology development AGA strategies for heparan sulfate oligosaccharide synthesis.

 

Miller Research Group - Team Member - Jack Porter

DR JACK PORTER

PDRA (2023-2024)

Worked on modified nucleosides and molecular probes targeting GDP-mannose dehydrogenase (GMD).

 

PhD

Miller Research Group - Carbohydrate Tools

DR LAURA BESWICK

PhD (2016-2019)

Chemoenzymatic synthesis of sugar-nucleotide analogues: tools to probe a strategic dehydrogenase from Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Now Senior Scientist at Croda, Leek, UK.

Miller Research Group - Carbohydrate Tools

DR ELENI DIMITRIOU

PhD (2016-2019)

Chemical synthesis of modified D-mannuronate building blocks: prospects for modified alginates.

Now API Development Scientist at Aptuit/Evotech, UK.

Miller Research Group - Carbohydrate Tools

DR MIEKE GUINAN

PhD (2017-2021)

Chemical synthesis and biological evaluation of 4’-thionucleosides.

Now Senior Scientist, Lundbeck, Denmark.

Miller Research Group - Team Member - Caecilie Benckendorff

DR CAECILIE BENCKENDORFF

PhD (2018-2022)

Chemical synthesis of fluorinated carbocyclic nucleoside analogues.

Now PDRA in the group, working on nucleotide analogue synthesis.

Miller Research Group - Team Member - Jack Porter

DR JACK PORTER

PhD (2019-2023)

Chemical synthesis approaches to amphiphilic mimetic glycosides.

Now PDRA in the group, working on carbohydrate probe synthesis.

Miller Research Group - Team Member - Alice Wahart

DR ALICE WAHART

PhD (2019-2023)

Bioprocess development of aliphatic chain compounds with oxidases in mild conditions.

 

MASTERS LEVEL

 

2022

  • Ethan Chidlow (MRes) – Chemical synthesis of chloropyrimidine-based nucleoside analogues as potential inhibitors of GDP-mannose dehydrogenase.
  • Adam Bloor (MChem) – Behind the curtain: adventures in C-5 bromination of D-glucuronic acid derivatives and the development of a new approach towards L-iduronic acid. Now PhD with GJM @ Keele.

2021

  • Sasha Crouchman (MRes) – Chemical synthesis of molecular probes for human heparanase.
  • Joanita Namulinda (MChem) – Chemical synthesis of a probe for a yeast GDP-mannose transporter.

2020

  • Jamie Payton (MChem) – Chemical synthesis of a fluorinated glucosyl ceramide.
  • Lorna Scholl (MChem) – Chemical Synthesis of Precursors Towards the Synthesis of Fluorinated Carbocyclic Nucleoside Analogues. Now Scientist at Cyprotex.

2019

  • Lloyd Murphy (MChem) – Chemical synthesis of a sulfoxide nucleoside analogue. Now PhD with Lianne Willems @ York.
  • Alex Compton (MChem) – Chemical synthesis of a 6’,6’-difluorinated nucleoside analogue.

2018

  • Mitchell Loach (MChem) – Chemical synthesis of a C6-homologue of mannose 1-phosphate.
  • Hannah Wootton (MChem) – Chemical synthesis of a non-self alginate building block. Now PhD with GJM @ Keele.

2017

  • Katie Huxley (MChem) – Towards a chemical synthesis of phenyl-5-nitro-α-D-lyxopyranoside. PhD with Lianne Willems @ York, now @ Sygnature.

2016

  • Jonathan Dolan (MChem) – Chemical Synthesis of GDP-D-ManA. Now PhD with Bruce Turnbull @ Leeds.
  • Jak Buxton (MChem) – Synthesis of modified mannuronate building blocks.

2015

  • Xiaotong Sun (MSc) – Glycosylation methodology development for uronate building blocks.
  • Shi Jiali (MSc) – Anomeric activation methodology development for the assembly of complex oligosaccharides.
  • Nathan Scott (MChem) – Glycosylation methodology development for uronate building blocks.
  • Rhys Curzon (MChem) – Synthesis of modified mannuronate donors.

Summer Students

 

2018

  • Hannah Wootton – (RSC Undergraduate Research Bursary) Mimetic sugar nucleotides to probe a strategic bacterial dehydrogenase enzyme

2015

  • Thomas Hailes – (RSC Undergraduate Research Bursary) Carbohydrate mimetic building blocks for β-1,4-alginate assembly.