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Royal Society of Chemistry Internship

Royal Society of Chemistry Internship

Chemical Linker Technologies


At the end of 2018, High Force Research (HFR) was lucky enough to be awarded an Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Internship Grant to explore novel chemical linker technologies for the life sciences sector. This award was for three months and was undertaken at the beginning of 2019 by our new intern, Dr. Caitlin Mooney.

The project was looking into water-soluble chemical linkers. These have a variety of uses across the physical sciences – the ability to covalently link biomolecules and substrates has proven an extremely useful tool for a number of biomedical applications, with methods of bioconjugation including PEGylation of proteins/peptides to improve in vivo stability, conjugation of peptides to improve cell permeability of drugs and the attachment of imaging labels generating new diagnostic tools.

Given her background in peptide modification gained through her PhD at Durham University and a Postdoctoral position at the University of Glasgow, Caitlin was the perfect candidate for the project and quickly set about developing and synthesising a new chemical linker with the aim of selectively tagging cysteine residues in peptides and proteins. Caitlin commented,

“When I first seen the outline of the project, I felt like it was almost written for me. My background in synthesis applied to peptide modification appeared ideal for the role and the fact it was an industrial internship meant that I could get that much needed experience away from an academic environment.”

At the end of the project, Caitlin was able to demonstrate that her new chemical linker had the ability to selectively tag cysteine in the presence of other nucleophilic amino acids. Furthermore, she was able to demonstrate selective tagging of the large protein, Bovine Serum Albumin.

“Although the project was quite short, Caitlin was able to demonstrate the potential of this new linker in bioconjugation chemistries. We hope that this will form the basis of a new service HFR could offer in the future,”

said Dr Neil Sim, Head of New Projects at HFR.

Following the success of the project, Caitlin has since become a full-time member of the R&D group at HFR’s NETPark laboratory. On making the transition to a permanent member of staff she said,

“I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at HFR and I was more than happy to make my stay permanent. I’m looking forward to working with the team and gaining more experience with the wide variety of projects that come through our laboratories.”


HFR wishes to thank the Royal Society of Chemistry for financial support of the project.

HFR Dr Caitlin Mooney
Dr Caitlin Mooney

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