• EH14 4AS

    United Kingdom

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Medicinal chemistry and drug discovery using peptides and fluorine chemistry

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Check out our recent Application Note working with Teledyne Isco to develop flash purification of peptide-peptoid hybrids.



Dr Coxon is Associate Professor in Synthetic Chemistry at Heriot-Watt University (since Sept 2019), appointed as part of the HW Bicentennial Research Leaders scheme. He is co-founder and Director of a Durham University peptide synthesis spin-out, Pepmotec Ltd and was awarded a prestigious Vice Chancellors Medal for Research and Scholarship (LJMU, 2019) for his research into new migraine treatments. He is a current panel member of the Royal Society of Chemistry Protein & Peptide Science Group and helps to organise the annual Early Stage Researchers’ meeting. 

Dr Coxon has previously held academic appointments at Liverpool John Moores University (Senior Lecturer; Oct 14 - Aug 19) and Durham University (Aug 2013 - Sept 2014). Prior to undertaking postdoctoral positions at Durham, he completed his PhD (2010) at the Northern Institute of Cancer Research, Newcastle University as part of the Cancer Research UK Medicinal Chemistry Training Programme.

Research interests

The Coxon Lab (William Perkin 2.08)

Our Lab uses synthetic organic chemistry, peptide chemistry and fluorine chemistry to solve complex biological problems. Our researchers work in the following areas of medicinal and biological chemistry:

1. Understanding and treating intermittent and progressive neurodegenerative and neurological diseases.

(A) The role of the calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP) in migraine pathophysiology and the development of novel therapeutics for migraine.

Our research programme has taken the native hormone, CGRP, that plays a key role in migraine and developed synthetic derivatives that are competitive antagomnists of CGRP. We use a range of in cell and in vivo assays to demonstrate the biological activity of these agents and are working to make these deliverable via nasal administration to treat migraine.

Relevant publications:

Funding: Innovate UK/MRC Biomedical Catalyst Scheme

Control of protein shape or conformation is essential for correct molecular recognition and precise function. Stabilisation of molecular structures can deliver potent interactions and new medicines. We are typically interested in gaining understanding from a chemical basis and treating neurological and neurodegenerative diseases. The group use a combination of a) model peptide synthesis, b) organofluorine chemistry, and c) F NMR techniques to study this. The molecular and biological basis of protein folding/mis-folding, which are a characteristic feature of a class of diseases called proteopathies, which includes several neurodegenerative diseases e.g. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc.

 Relevant publications:

3. Using perfluorinated scaffolds to stabilise bioactive 3D peptide architectures
We have explored the use of the highly-reactive reagent, hexafluorobenzene, as a template for peptide modification/arylation/cyclisation towards new biologically active molecules for medicine and for miniaturised diagnostic reagents that can compete with existing antibody methodologies.
Relevant publications:
  • Using 19F NMR and two-level factorial design to explore thiol-fluoride substitution in hexafluorobenzene and its application in peptide stapling and cyclisation. Pept. Sci. 2020 IN PRESSPaolo Dognini, Patrick M. Killoran, George S. Hanson, Lewis Halsall, Talhat Chaudhry, Zasharatul Islam, Francesca Giuntini and Christopher R. Coxon

Funding: EPSRC - Royal Society

4. The development of novel synthetic methodologies towards non-natural amino acids
We develop new methodologies towards, for example, fluorinated amino acids or novel tryptophan derivatives for new antibiotics.
Relevant publications:


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Devlopment Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

External positions

Director and co-founder of Pepmotec Ltd

1 Feb 2019 → …

RSC Protein & Peptide Science Group Committee

2019 → …

SCI Young Chemists Panel



  • QD Chemistry


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