Professor Glenn Burley

Pure and Applied Chemistry

Personal statement

Glenn A. Burley (GAB) is Professor of Chemical Biology at the University of Strathclyde. The main focus of GAB’s research programme is the development of molecular probes to further our understanding of processes involved in gene expression. GAB was awarded a Bachelor of Medicinal Chemistry (Hon. I) and a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Wollongong, Australia. GAB was a post-doctoral fellow in the Fullerene Science Centre at the University of Sussex (2001-2003) and an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the University of Munich (2004-2006).  GAB began his independent career as an EPSRC Advanced Fellow in 2007 at the University of Leicester, before moving to Strathclyde in 2011.


PROTAC-mediated degradation of Bruton's tyrosine kinase is inhibited by covalent binding
Tinworth Christopher P, Lithgow Hannah, Dittus Lars , Bassi Zuni I, Hughes Sophie E, Muelbaier Marcel, Dai Han, Smith Ian E D, Kerr William J, Burley Glenn A, Bantscheff Marcus, Harling John D
ACS Chemical Biology (2019)
Structural and kinetic profiling of allosteric modulation of duplex DNA induced by DNA-binding polyamide analogues
Aman Khalid, Padroni Giacomo, Parkinson John A, Welte Thomas , Burley Glenn A
Chemistry - A European Journal Vol 25, pp. 2757-2763 (2019)
A flow platform for degradation-free CuAAC bioconjugation
Hatit Marine Z C, Reichenbach Linus F, Tobin John M, Vilela Filipe, Burley Glenn A, Watson Allan J B
Nature Communications Vol 9 (2018)
An organic semiconductor laser platform for the detection of DNA by AgNP plasmonic enhancement
McConnell G, Mabbott S, Kanibolotskyy A L, Skabara P J, Graham D, Burley G A, Laurand N
Langmuir (2018)
The mechanisms of a mammalian splicing enhancer
Jobbins Andrew M, Reichenbach Linus F, Lucas Christian M, Hudson Andrew J, Burley Glenn A, Eperon Ian C
Nucleic Acids Research (2018)
Oxidative β-C–H sulfonylation of cyclic amines
Griffiths R J, Kong W C, Richards S A, Burley G A, Willis M C, Talbot E P A
Chemical Science (2018)

more publications

Research interests

The Burley group applies a problem-based ethos that utilizes synthetic organic chemistry, biosynthesis and physical organic chemistry to explore regulatory mechanisms of transcription and RNA processing. In collaboration with bio-engineers, the group is constructing a new generation of nucleic acid-programmed nano-assemblies for diagnostic and light-harvesting applications.  

Three nodes of research are currently being pursued:

  1. Chemical Biology of alternative RNA splicing (in collaboration with Prof. Ian Eperon & Dr Cyril Dominguez, University of Leicester) – Alternative RNA splicing is a major contributor to protein diversity and genetic regulation operating in eukaryotic cells, yet the mechanisms by which it is regulated are poorly understood. This research programme is aimed at unravelling fundamental issues associated with splice site selection using small molecule and large molecule (oligonucleotides and protein hybrids) probes. These methods are being applied to further our understanding in diseases such as Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and Prostate Cancer.
  2. DNA-based construction of molecular devices (in collaboration with Prof. Richard Cogdell FRS & Dr Alasdair Clark, University of Glasgow) - We are currently developing self-assembly approaches for the construction of DNA-programmed optoelectronic and light-harvesting devices. DNA-binding molecules are being developed that read the genetic code of DNA and direct the assembly of noble metal nanoparticles and light-harvesting proteins in defined positions along a DNA nanostructure. We are now applying this technology to build DNA-programmed light-harvesting devices and plasmonic waveguides for molecular electronics and medical diagnostic applications.
  3. Synthetic Organic Chemistry (in collaboration with Dr Allan Watson, University of St. Andrews) - New bioconjugation methodology is being developed using ynamines as a new generation of click chemistry reagents. These functional groups display unique reactivity relative to their alkyne cognates enabling the efficient and chemoselective construction of bioconjugates and as target identificaiton and validation tools in chemical biology.

See for further details.

Professional activities

External examiner
Invited talk
2nd International Caparica Conference in Splicing
External Examiner (PhD viva)
Fluorescent Biomolecules and their Building Blocks (FB3)

more professional activities


Macromolecular construction of DNA networks directed by the flourous effect
Burley, Glenn (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 31-Jan-2021
Industrial CASE Account - University of Strathclyde 2018 | Bunschoten, Roderick
Burley, Glenn (Principal Investigator) Jamieson, Craig (Co-investigator) Bunschoten, Roderick (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 01-Jan-2022
Regulation of alternative splicing by G-quadruplexes: molecular mechanisms and tools to manipulate gene expression
Burley, Glenn (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 28-Jan-2021
A new genetically-encoded aptamer platform for multi-colour RNA imaging
Burley, Glenn (Principal Investigator)
"Many important processes in mammalian cells involve RNA. Of particular interest are those in which RNA molecules themselves act to catalyse events that affect a second RNA molecule. RNA molecules are often able to adopt a number of structures, and they can fluctuate between these either spontaneously (thermally-driven) or as a result of the actions of enzymes. A less well understood example is RNA splicing, in which large stretches of RNA are displaced from newly-transcribed RNA to form mRNA. The splicing machinery is RNA-based, and the RNA substrates are very long, sites are hard to recognise, and the use of these sites is often subject to complex tissue-specific regulation that may involve the formation of structures with the RNA. A good way of monitoring whether RNA undergoes changes in its structures or conformations is to specifically place fluorescent labels at two sites in the RNA. These labels are chosen such that, when they come into close proximity, they transfer the energy of fluorescence excitation from one to the other; this can be measured. This is a particularly good method for following the events on a single molecule, which is an essential approach for studying splicing.

The main drawback at present is that it is very difficult to introduce two labels at specific sites far inside a long RNA molecule. We propose to overcome this by genetically encoding RNA structures to bind to fluorescent tags. Having available a two-colour system to label RNA will provide a powerful new tool for RNA research as it will allow various RNA processing events to be directly compared rather than relying on fluorescence emission of a single fluorophore. Our inter-disciplinary approach is to exploit an artificial evolution technique known as SELEX to identify RNA structures (aptamers) that bind fluorophores that exhibit red emission. We will then incorporate these aptamers into long RNA molecules and investigate their potential as reporters of RNA biology. This will have a major impact in RNA research, and we will ensure both that the aptamers become commercially available and that the ability to follow RNA fluorescence is recognised as opening up new opportunities to search for drugs that affect RNA-based reactions."
01-Jan-2016 - 31-Jan-2017
Accelerating clinical introduction of novel antibacterial drugs
Tucker, Nicholas (Principal Investigator) Burley, Glenn (Co-investigator) Scott, Fraser (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2016 - 31-Jan-2017
Industrial Case Account 2016 / S160595-108
Burley, Glenn (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2016 - 30-Jan-2021

more projects


Pure and Applied Chemistry
Thomas Graham Building

Location Map

View University of Strathclyde in a larger map