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Gibson Group: Ruben Tomas


Ruben Tomás is a Research Fellow joint with The University of Warwick and Cryologyx, an early-stage biotechnology company based in Coventry, UK. Ruben focuses on the development of next generation cryoprotectants to expand the storage and transportation of cell-based products used in drug discovery and diagnostics.


Ruben Completed his PhD in the Gibson Group focusing on "Metabolic Oligosaccharide Engineering for Glycocalyx Remodelling with Synthetic Polymers", under the supervision of Professor Matthew Gibson (supervisor; Department of Chemistry and Warwick Medical School) and Dr Daniel Mitchell (co-supervisor; Warwick Medical School). Ruben joined the Molecular Analytical Science Centre for Doctoral Training (MAS-CDT) in 2016, where he completed his MSc in Molecular Analytical Science, obtaining a Pass with Distinction. Ruben's MAS CDT webpage can be found here, with complete details of prior projects. Ruben obtained a First Class BSc degree in Forensic Science at Nottingham Trent University (2016). In the second year of his degree, Ruben completed a summer placement with Dr Liam Duffy, at Nottingham Trent University, working on the "Synthesis of Novel Antimalarial Compounds derived from the Codinaeopsin Scaffold". Following this, in Ruben's final year, he completed a project developing "Dye-Doped Silica Nanoparticles and Microparticles for Fingermark Enhancement", under the supervision of Dr Muriel Funck, for which he was awarded "Winner of the Trent Institute for Learning and Teaching Research in Undergraduate Studies Award. In recognition of having the best research project in the School of Science and Technology in 2015/2016".

Research Interests

Ruben's research interests focus on glycocalyx remodeling with macromolecules to enable the rational design of high-quality cell-based therapies. Metabolic glycan labeling allows the installation of azide groups onto the cell surface through the use of unnatural azide modified sugars to hijack the promiscuous biosynthetic pathway of endogenous glycans. Subsequent biorthogonal installation of synthetic polymers conjugated to biomolecules, drugs or fluorescent dyes allows non-native functionality to be introduced, probing biological processes and enhancing cell-based therapies. The use of cell and molecular biology techniques have been utilised to determine the biocompatibility and efficiency of such approaches (Biomacromolecules, 2019; ACS Macro Lett., 2018).

Our research group also focus on improving the cryopreservation formulations of cells, with recent efforts targetted towards improving the cryopreservation of stem cells using polymer derivatives of natural antifreeze proteins, whilst retaining their pluripotent status.


1. Alex Murray, Tom R. Congdon, Ruben M.F. Tomás, Peter Kilbride, Gibson, M.I., Biomacromolecules, 2021., "Red Blood Cell Cryopreservation with Minimal Post-Thaw Lysis Enabled by a Synergistic Combination of a Cryoprotecting Polyampholyte with DMSO/Trehalose".

2. Ruben M. F. Tomás and Matthew I. Gibson, Chem. Sci., 2021, 12, 4557-4569. "Covalent Cell Surface Recruitment of Chemotherapeutic Polymers Enhances Selectivity and Activity".

ToC for paper 2

3. Kathryn A Murray, Ruben M. F. Tomás, and Matthew I. Gibson, ACS Appl. Bio Mater., 2020, 3 (9), 5627-5632. "Low DMSO Cryopreservation of Stem Cells Enabled by Macromolecular Cryoprotectants".

4. Ruben M. F. Tomás, Matthew I. Gibson. ACS Macro Lett., 2020, 9 (7), 991-1003. "100th Anniversary of Macromolecular Science Viewpoint: Re-Engineering Cellular Interfaces with Synthetic Macromolecules Using Metabolic Glycan Labeling".

Notable features: Invited Viewpoint for 100th Anniversary of Macromolecular Science, ACS Editors' Choice, Top Most Accessed Paper Jun-Nov 2020, 3rd Most Accessed Paper 2020-21, ACS Macro Letters Coverpage.


5. Hadyn L. Parker, Ruben M. F. Tomás, Christopher M. Furze, Collette S. Guy, Elizabeth Fullam.Org. Biomol. Chem., 2020,18, 3607-3612. "Asymmetric trehalose analogues to probe disaccharide processing pathways in mycobacteria".

6. Ruben M. F. Tomás, Trisha L. Bailey, Muhammad Hasan, Matthew I. Gibson, Biomacromolecules, 2019, 20 (10), 3864-3872. "Extracellular Antifreeze Protein Significantly Enhances the Cryopreservation of Cell Monolayer".


7. Trisha L. Bailey, Christopher Stubbs, Kathryn Murray, Ruben M. F. Tomás, Lucienne Otten, Matthew I. Gibson, Biomacromolecules, 2019, 20 (8), 3104-3114. "Synthetically Scalable Poly(ampholyte) Which Dramatically Enhances Cellular Cryopreservation".

Notable features: Warwick Press Release, Science Daily, Med India, News(wise),, Select Science, Under Technology, Health News Digest, Infosalus, IOM3.

8. Ruben M. F. Tomás and Matthew I. Gibson, Biomacromolecules, 2019, 20 (7), 2726-2736. Optimization and Stability of Cell-Polymer Hybrids Obtained by ‘Clicking’ Synthetic Polymers to Metabolically-Labeled Cell Surface Glycans.

Notable features: Biomacromolecules Coverpage, ACS Editors' Choice Article, Chemical and Engineering News, Top Most Accessed Paper June 2019


9. Ruben M. F. Tomás, Benjamin Martyn, Trisha L. Bailey, Matthew I. Gibson, ACS Macro Lett., 2018, 7(11), 1289–1294. "Engineering Cell Surfaces by Covalent Grafting of Synthetic Polymers to Metabolically-Labeled Glycans"

Notable features: Most access Nov/Dec 2018


10. Sarah‐Jane Richards, Adam Jones, Ruben M. F. Tomás, Matthew I. Gibson, Chem. A Eur. J., 2018, 24 (52), 13758–13761. "Photochemical “In‐Air” Combinatorial Discovery of Antimicrobial Co‐polymers".

Notable features: Warwick press release, Highlighted a 'hot' paper.

Grants and Bursaries

Ruben's PhD is fully funded by MAS-CDT and EPSRC (EP/L015307/1.).


07/20 Talk prize winner at MAS CDT annual conference.

06/20 ACS Macro Letters cover page feature.

06/20 ACS Editors’ Choice.

06/20 Warwick Chemistry Postgraduate Symposium Presentation Prize Winner (Chemical Biology Division)

07/19 ACS Editors’ Choice.

07/19 Biomacromolecules cover page feature.

06/19 Talk prize winner at MAS CDT annual conference.

09/18- 09/19 University of Warwick Chair of student staff liason committee.

06/18 Poster prize winner at MAS CDT annual conference.

09/17- 09/18 MAS CDT Secretary of student staff liason committee.

05/17 Poster prize winner at MAS CDT annual conference.

09/16 MAS scholarship awarded by the Engineering & Physical Science Research Council.

07/16 Winner of the Trent Institute for Learning and Teaching Research in Undergraduate Studies in the School of Science and Technology 15/16 for the best research project

09/13-07/16 NTU Undergraduate Studies Scholarship

Conference Presentations

04/21 ACS Spring 2021, Virtual, US (Poster)

07/20 MAS CDT annual conference, Virtual, UK (Oral)

06/20 Macro Group YRM, Virtual, UK (Oral)

06/20 Warwick Chemistry Postgraduate Symposium, Coventry, UK (Oral)

01/20 4th Chemical Ligation Meeting, Le Studium, Orleáns, France (Poster & Oral)

06/19 MAS CDT annual conference, Somerset, UK (Poster & Oral)

05/19 Warwick Postgraduate Symposium, University of Warwick, UK (Poster)

07/19 MAS CDT annual conference, Bakewell, UK (Poster & Oral)

Outreach Work

During Ruben's Master's year, he was an RSC STEM ambassador and part of the Warwick Chemistry Society's outreach programme.

In addition to outreach, Ruben is a student staff liaison officer for the MAS CDT course and demonstrates on various modules on the MAS CDT course.



MSc in Molecular Analytical Science at The University of Warwick achieving Pass with Distinction (2016-2017)

BSc (Hons) in Forensic Science at Nottingham Trent University achieving First Class Honours (2013-2016)




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