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Gibson Group: Laura Wilkins

Life as a Gibson Alumni

Laura Wilkins was a PhD student in the Gibson Group from 2015-2018. She now studies at St Hugh's College, University of Oxford, for the accelerated 4-year Graduate Entry Medicine course, to train as a medical doctor.

See below for details of Laura's work before and during her time in the Gibson Group.


Between 2010 and 2014, she carried out her MChem in Chemical Biology at the University of Warwick, completing her final year project in the Gibson Group. This project involved the synthesis of glycopolymers and glyconanoparticles, and an investigation into their biocompatibility.

In the summer holidays after her first and second years, she was awarded bursaries by the Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme (URSS) to undertake research jointly in the Clinical Sciences Research Laboratories (UHCW) and Department of Chemistry, supervised jointly by Prof. Donald Singer and Dr. Andrew Marsh. This research investigated the role of calcium-independent phospholipase A2 beta in blood vessel contraction. In the summer of her third year, she worked as a summer research student at Revolymer Ltd. at Deeside Industrial Park.

In 2014-2015, Laura undertook an MSc in Molecular Analytical Science in the MAS CDT at Warwick. During this year, she undertook two analytical miniprojects with Dr. Ann Dixon and Prof. Judith Klein-Seetharam and Dr. Ahmed Eissa and Prof. Neil Cameron respectively.

Previous projects undertaken include:

  • MAS MSc miniproject 2, July - September 2015: Giant (cell-sized) vesicles with tunable rigidity and permeability as carriers in medicine and biotechnology
  • MAS MSc miniproject 1, April-June 2015: The Membrane Receptor Interactome: Prediction and Measurement of Membrane Protein Interaction Networks
  • MChem Research, October 2013 - May 2014: Gluco-functional Polymers/Particles and Study of their Interactions with the GLUT-1 Transporter
  • URSS Research, July – September 2012 and June – September 2011: Pleiotropic regulation of alpha-adrenoceptor-mediated vasoconstriction in human arteries

Research Interests

Laura's PhD was jointly supervised by Prof. Matthew Gibson (Department of Chemistry) and Dr. Nick Waterfield (Warwick Medical School), funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The project used a combination of bio-orthogonal chemistry and molecular biology to exploit the function of naturally occurring "molecular syringes".

This research involved:

  • Design, synthesis and analysis of biocompatible polymers by controlled radical polymerisation
  • Bio-orthogonal "click" chemistry
  • Competitive inhibition of toxins for "Anti-adhesion Therapy"
  • Hybrid antifreeze/AuNP materials
  • Protein binding assays via use of bioorthogonal protein/polymer/AuNP systems


  • [6] Wilkins, LE., Hasan, M., Fayter, AER., Biggs, C., Walker, M., Gibson, MI., 'Multivalent display of antifreeze proteins on nanoparticles using site specific conjugation', submitted.
  • [5] Wilkins, LE., Badhi, N., du Prez, F., Gibson, MI., 'Double-modified glycopolymers from thio-lactones to module lectin selectivity and affinity', ACS Macroletters, 2018, 7, 1498-1502. Link
  • [4] Lee, GH., Wayte, S., Stubbs, C., Wilkins, LE., Hutchinson, CE., Gibson, MI., Davies, G-L., Chem. Comms., in revision.
  • [3] Stubbs, C., Wilkins, LE.,* Fayter, AC., Walker, M.,Gibson, M.I., 'Multivalent Presentation of Ice Recrystallization Inhibiting Polymers on Nanoparticles Retains Activity', Langmuir, 2018, accepted, Link
  • [2] Richards, S-J., Isufi, K., Wilkins, L. E., Lipecki, J., Fullam, L.*, Gibson, M. I.*, 'Multivalent Antimicrobial Polymer Nanoparticles Target Mycobacteria and Gram-Negative Bacteria by Distinct Mechanism', Biomacromolecules, 2017, (DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.7b01561) Link
  • [1] Wilkins, LE., Phillips, DJ, Deller, RC, Davies, G-L, Gibson, MI., 'Synthesis and Characterisation of Glucose-Functional Glycopolymers and Gold Nanoparticles: Study of their Potential Interactions with Ovine Red Blood Cells', Carbohydrate Research (Special issue on GlycoNanomaterials), 2015, 405, 47-54. Link

* Joint first author

Oral Presentations

  • August 2018: ACS 256th National meeting, Boston, USA
  • July 2018: Macro YRM meeting, Dublin, ROI
  • June 2015: MOAC DTC Annual Conference, Wilderhope Manor

Poster Presentations

  • June 2017: Warwick Chemistry Postgraduate Symposium, University of Warwick.
  • May 2017: APME 2017, University of Ghent, Belgium.
  • October 2016: RSC Carb 50th Meeting, University of Warwick.
  • July 2016: Warwick Polymers 2016, University of Warwick. "Glycopolymer Anti-infectives against Cholera"
  • June 2015: MOAC DTC Annual Conference, Wilderhope Manor.
  • August 2013: Poster Presentation; 11th European Association of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Congress, Geneva, Switzerland. "Complex regulation of Alpha-adrenoreceptor-mediated vasoconstriction in human internal thoracic arteries" Related content: Posts by Delegates
  • April 2013: British Microcirculation Society Early Career Investigators Symposium, University of Warwick. "Pleiotropic regulation of alpha-adrenoceptormediated vasoconstriction in human internal mammary arteries".
  • April 2012: 4th BPS Focused Meeting on Cell Signalling, University of Leicester. "Stereoselective and biphasic S-BEL sensitive pathways regulate receptor-mediated but not high-K induced tone in human conduit arteries".

Grants and Bursaries

  • August 2018: RSC Chemical Biology Interface Division Travel Grant to support attendance at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, Boston, USA.
  • August 2018: Biochemical Society General Travel Grant to support attendance at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, Boston, USA
  • August 2013: European Association for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (EACPT) and British Pharmacological Society (BPS) travel grants for 11th EACPT Congress 2013, Geneva, Switzerland.
  • April 2012: BPS travel grant for 4th BPS Focused Meeting on Cell Signalling, Leicester 2012.
  • July – September 2012 and June – September 2011: Undergraduate Research Scholarships (research grants awarded), Department of Chemistry, University of Warwick and the Clinical Sciences Research Laboratories, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW). Project title: “Pleiotropic regulation of alpha-adrenoceptor-mediated vasoconstriction in human arteries.


  • The Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences (APS): SAPS University of Warwick Representative 2015-2018
  • Royal Society of Chemistry: AMRSC
  • British Pharmacological Society: Postgraduate Student membership
  • The Biochemical Society: Postgraduate Student membership
  • Americal Chemical Society: Postgraduate Student membership

Other Interests


While at the University of Warwick, Laura was an active member of the Brass Society and Chamber Choir. She also regularly climbed in the university's sport centre.




University of Warwick

PhD in Chemistry, 2015-2018

MSc in Molecular Analytical Science, 2014-2015

MChem in Chemical Biology, 2010-2014