Zoe Waller

Zoe Waller



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Personal profile

Areas Of Expertise



ResearcherID: http://www.researcherid.com/rid/F-6715-2011

PhD Positions

Funded PhD Positions: 

How Proteins Bind Unusual DNA Structures

What Other Shapes Can DNA Form in Cells?

Chemical Biology Meets Microbiology to Combat Climate Change

Early Diagnosis of Meningitis using Multiplex Biomarker-Based Detection 

Click here for other current PhD opportunities in Pharmacy. But feel free to email me to discuss projects outside these areas and alternative sources of funding.

Postdoctoral Positions

I am always happy to discuss possibilities for postdoctoral work and collaborations please email me to discuss projects and potential sources of funding.


Zoё graduated with a MChem (Distinction) in Chemistry with Pharmaceutical and Forensic Science from the University of Bradford in 2005. She then moved to the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge to continue her studies towards a PhD in Chemical Biology under the supervision of Shankar Balasubramanian. Her thesis was based on the design, properties and function of small molecule ligands which interact with G-quadruplex DNA. Whilst completing her PhD she was heavily involved with teaching and demonstrating undergraduate students and also STIMULUS, where she helped run after-school Science classes. In 2008 she was awarded the Corporate Associates Prize for Practical Class Demonstration in recognition of "outstanding qualities in the teaching of practical chemistry". After completing her PhD in 2009 she gained further teaching experience within the secondary education sector before taking up a position as Senior Demonstrator in Medicinal Chemistry in the School of Pharmacy at UEA. After gaining some further experience in industry at HFL Sport Science she returned to the School in late 2010 as a junior Lecturer in Chemical Biology. She was promoted to Lecturer in 2014, Senior Lecturer in 2017 and is now an Associate Professor. Zoё is currently on the committee of the Royal Society of Chemistry Nucleic Acids Group (Secretary) and the Chemical Biology and Bio-organic interest group (Treasurer), part of the Royal Society of Chemistry degree accreditation panel, an associate of the Faculty of 1000 and a STEM ambassador. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) and the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).

Zoё’s research is focussed at the interface between chemistry and biology and she is particularly interested in drug-nucleic acid interactions and studying alternative DNA structures. She uses many different experimental approaches including organic synthesis, biophysics and molecular biology. Her research has two general themes: switching DNA conformation for uses in nanotechnology and targeting DNA/RNA with small molecule ligands for applications in biology. The work has applications in nanotechnology, chemical biology and development of novel therapeutics for genetic diseases such as cancer, diabetes or fragile X syndrome.

Selected publications:

Identification of multiple genomic DNA sequences which form i-motif structures at neutral pH.

E. P. Wright, J. L. Huppert and Z. A. E. Waller. 
Nucleic Acids Res. 2017, 45, 2951. (Explained on YouTube).

Mitoxantrone and analogues bind and stabilise i-motif forming DNA sequences.

E. P. Wright, H. A. Day, A. M. Ibrahim, J. Kumar, L. J. E. Boswell, C. Huguin, C. E. M. Stevenson, K. Pors and Z. A. E. Waller. 
Sci. Reports., 2016, 6, 39456. (Explained on YouTube).

Control of bacterial nitrate assimilation by stabilization of G-quadruplex DNA.
Z. A. E. Waller, B. J. Pinchbeck, B. Seewoodharry Buguth, T. G. Meadows, D. J. Richardson and A. J. Gates.
Chem. Commun, 2016, 52, 13511. (Explained on YouTube).

Reversible DNA i-motif to hairpin switching induced by copper (II) cations.
H. A. Day, E. P. Wright, C. J. MacDonald, A. J. Gates and Z. A. E. Waller
Chem. Commun., 2015, 51, 14099. (Explained on YouTube).

i-Motif DNA: Structure, stability and targeting with ligands.
H. A. Day, P. Pavlos and Z. A. E. Waller
Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2014, 22, 4407.



Key Research Interests and Expertise

My group is interested in the different types of structure DNA can form and studying how this can be influenced by conditions, ligands or drugs. Our work spans both chemistry and biology but also has applications in nanotechnology. We are particularly interested in finding and developing molecules which interact with i-motif DNA, an alternative structure of DNA formed in sequences which are rich in the base cytosine. We are also interested in other alternative structures in DNA and RNA such as G-quadruplexes, hairpins and 3 or 4-way junctions and probing their potential functions in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic biology.


Research Group Membership

Current Group

  • Mahmoud Abdelhamid (Eastern-Arc PhD student) joint with Dr Andrew Gates (BIO)
  • Philip Spence (BBSRC DTP PhD student) joint with Dr John Fielden (CHE)
  • Summer Rosonovoski (BBSRC DTP PhD student) joint with Dr Christopher Morris
  • Ying Xia (PhD Student) joint with Prof Mark Searcey

Past Group Members

  • Robert Helma (Horizon 2020 exchange PhD student)
  • Daniela Stoyanova (Biochemical Society student)
  • Dr Jan Coufal (Horizon 2020 exchange PDRA)
  • Dr Emily Warner (Wellcome Trust funded PDRA)
  • Dr Elise Wright (BBSRC funded PDRA)
  • Sophie Farrington (Biochemical Society student)
  • Qiran Sheng (PhD student) joint with Dr Susan Matthews
  • Rouven Becker (ERASMUS student)
  • Jessica Louzame (Visiting Researcher)
  • Matthew Bennett (Diabetes UK research associate)
  • Hamza Patel (Royal Society of Chemistry student)
  • Ramona Mostashiri (ERASMUS student)
  • Henry Day (Novartis PhD student)
  • Isabela Zakimi Innocentini (Science Without Borders student)
  • Tasnim Mahmoud (Visiting researcher)
  • Lavinia Dunsmore (Royal Society of Chemistry student)
  • Viji Moorthie (Visiting researcher)
  • Philip Gillespie (Wellcome Trust vacation student)
  • Bhovina Buguth (Big C vacation student)
  • Muhannad Daas (Novartis summer student)
  • Shahid Chowdhury (Big C vacation student)
  • Camille Huguin (Visiting researcher, National Institute of Applied Sciences of Rouen)
  • Phuong Nguyen (Novartis summer student) joint with Dr Susan Matthews
  • Rebecca Arnold (Wellcome Trust vacation student)
  • Funmi Ayeni (Nuffield Foundation student)


DNA; RNA; chemical genetics; chemical biology; new DNA ligands; G-quadruplex; Quadruplex; i-Motif; haipin; drug discovery; medicinal chemistry; discovering new cancer treatments.


Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or