Sheffield Institute for Nucleic Acids

Professor Jim A. Thomas

Research Interests

Work in my lab is centred on the synthesis of new molecular systems designed to interact with specific nucleic acid sequences and structures. These systems have photoexcited states that facilitate their use as novel imaging probes, therapeutics, and theranostics. In recent years in terms of imaging technologies, this approach has led to non-photobleaching, live cell optical probes for nuclear DNA, specific probes for quadruplex DNA structures, and easy to handle dual function optical/electron microscopy cell probes. Novel metal complex-based therapeutic have also been developed. These luminescent, genotoxic systems display activity against cancer lines that are resistant to conventional therapeutics. We are also developing self-assembled systems that bind to DNA through modes that are analogous to specific transcription factors. These systems function as photodynamic therapy sensitizers that specifically target DNA.


  • Walker, MG, Jarman, PJ, Gill, MR, Tian, X., Ahmad,, Reddy, PAN, McKenzie, L, Weinstein, JA, Meijer, AJHR., Battaglia, G. Smythe, CGW, Thomas, JA (2016). A self-assembled metallomacrocycle singlet oxygen sensitizer for photodynamic therapy. Chem Eur J, in press, DOI 10.1002/chem.201600852.
  • Ramu, V, Gill, MR, Jarman, PJ, Thomas, JA, Das, A, Smythe, CGW (2015). A cytostatic ruthenium(II)-platinum(II) bis(terpyridyl) anticancer complex that blocks entry into S phase by up-regulating p27KIP1. Chem Eur J, 21, 9185-9197.
  • Wragg, A, Gill, MR, Hill, CJ, Su, X, Meijer, AJHR, Smythe,CGW, Thomas,JA, (2015).  Dinuclear osmium(II) probes for high-resolution visualisation of cellular DNA structure using electron microscopy. Chem Commun, 50, 14494-14497 (front cover)
  • Baggaley, E, Gill, MR, Green, NH, Turton, D, Sazanovich, IV, Botchway, SW, Smythe, CGW, Haycock, JW, Weinstein, JA, Thomas,JA, (2014). Dinuclear Ruthenium(II) Complexes as Two-Photon, Time-Resolved Emission Microscopy Probes for Cellular DNA. Chem. Int. Ed., 2014, 53, 3367-71 (front cover; selected as a F1000Prime paper).
  • Gill, MR, Derrat, H, Smythe, CGW, Battaglia, G, Thomas, JA, (2011). Ruthenium(II) metallo-intercalators: DNA imaging and cytotoxicity. ChemBioChem, 12, 877-880.
  • A Ruthenium(II) Polypyridyl Complex for Direct Imaging of DNA Structure in Living Cells.  Gill, MR, Garcia-Lara, J, Foster, SJ, Smythe, CGW, Battaglia, G, Thomas, JA (2009) Nature Chem., 1, 662-667
Professor Jim A Thomas
Professor of Bio-inorganic Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
+44 (0)114 222 9325