Professor Colin Suckling

Research Professor

Pure and Applied Chemistry

Personal statement

Colin Suckling has been Freeland Professor of Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde since 1989. During the 1990s until 2002, he served successively as Dean of the Faculty of Science, Deputy Principal, and Vice Principal of the University of Strathclyde.  Much of Professor Suckling's work during that time was strategic including the development of inter-institutional and interdisciplinary research partnerships notably the research collaboration with the University of Glasgow (WestCHEM), which was recognized publicly with the award of OBE in 2006.

Recent and current research interests focus on the synthesis and properties of heterocyclic compounds designed as molecular probes for biological systems or as drugs.  Particular progress has been made in the field of fused pyrimidine compounds with anticancer and antiparasite activity and in the field of minor groove binders for DNA with antibacterial activity.  Several discoveries are entering pre-clinical development.

Professor Suckling's standing in the field of heterocyclic chemistry has been recognized by the award of the Adrien Albert Lectureship of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2009-10) and his appointment as chairman of the 2011 International Congress of Heterocyclic Chemistry to be held in Glasgow.


Discovery of a novel bromodomain and extra terminal domain (BET) protein inhibitor, I-BET282E, suitable for clinical progression
Jones Katherine L, Beaumont Dominic M, Bernard Sharon G, Bit Rino A, Campbell Simon P, Chung Chun-wa, Cutler Leanne, Demont Emmanuel H, Dennis Kate, Gordon Laurie, Gray James R, Haase Michael V, Lewis Antonia J, McCleary Scott, Mitchell Darren J, Moore Susanne M, Parr Nigel, Robb Olivia J, Smithers Nicholas, Soden Peter E, Suckling Colin J, Taylor Simon, Walker Ann L, Watson Robert J, Prinjha Rab K
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry Vol 64, pp. 12200-12227 (2021)
Truncated S-MGBs : towards a parasite-specific and low aggregation chemotype
Brooke Daniel P, McGee Leah M C, Giordani Federica, Cross Jasmine M, Khalaf Abedawn I, Irving Craig, Gillingwater Kirsten, Shaw Craig D, Carter Katharine C, Barrett Michael P, Suckling Colin J, Scott Fraser J
RSC Medicinal Chemistry Vol 12, pp. 1391-1401 (2021)
Mycobacterium tuberculosis decaprenylphosphoryl-β- d-ribose oxidase inhibitors : expeditious reconstruction of suboptimal hits into a series with potent in vivo activity
Borthwick Jennifer A, Alemparte Carlos, Wall Ian, Whitehurst Benjamin C, Argyrou Argyrides, Burley Glenn, de Dios-Anton Paco, Guijarro Laura, Monteiro Maria Candida, Ortega Fatima, Suckling Colin J, Pichel Julia Castro, Cacho Monica, Young Robert J
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry Vol 63, pp. 2557-2576 (2020)
Synthetic small molecule analogues of the immunomodulatory Acanthocheilonema viteae product ES-62 promote metabolic homeostasis during obesity in a mouse model
Lumb Felicity E, Crowe Jenny, Doonan James, Suckling Colin J, Selman Colin, Harnett Margaret M, Harnett William
Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology Vol 234 (2019)
Selective in vitro anti-cancer activity of non-alkylating minor groove binders
Nichol Ryan, Khalaf Abedawn, Sooda Kartheek, Hussain Omar, Griffiths Hollie, Phillips Roger, Javid Farideh, Suckling C J, Allison Simon, Scott Fraser
Medicinal Chemistry Communications Vol 10, pp. 1620-1634 (2019)
Novel minor groove binders cure animal African trypanosomiasis in an in vivo mouse model
Giordani Federica, Khalaf Abedawn I, Gillingwater Kirsten, Munday Jane C, De Koning Harry P, Suckling Colin J, Barrett Michael P, Scott Fraser J
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry Vol 62, pp. 3021-3035 (2019)

More publications

Professional activities

From blue sky research to big data- external perspectives on making knowledge work
There's no escape - single target, multiple effects
The antibacterial drug, MGB-BP-3, from discovery to clinical trial
Drug discovery backwards -from biological activity to target
Royal Society of Chemistry, North East Region
Invited speaker
International Conference on Chemistry for Mankind: Innovative Ideas in Life Sciences. ICCM-2011
Invited speaker

More professional activities


Investigating a novel class of Gram-negative active antibiotic suitable for clinical use
Scott, Fraser (Principal Investigator) Hunter, Iain (Co-investigator) Suckling, Colin (Co-investigator) Tucker, Nicholas (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 31-Jan-2022
Development of a first-in-class IKKalpha inhibitor for the treatment of castrate resistant p
MacKay, Simon (Principal Investigator) Halbert, Gavin (Co-investigator) Paul, Andrew (Co-investigator) Suckling, Colin (Co-investigator) Watson, David (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 30-Jan-2022
Covid-19 Accelerated introduction of a novel class of resistance-proof antiviral drugs: Strathclyde Minor Groove Binders
Scott, Fraser (Principal Investigator) Suckling, Colin (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 30-Jan-2020
Strathclyde COVID-19 Research Portfolio: Novel testing, digital health support and third sector collaboration for impact on social care
Bedford, Tim (Principal Investigator) Corrigan, Damion (Co-investigator) Dunlop, Mark (Co-investigator) Egan, Kieren (Co-investigator) Fleming, Leanne (Co-investigator) Flowers, Paul (Co-investigator) Grealy, Madeleine (Co-investigator) Hoskisson, Paul (Co-investigator) Hunter, Iain (Co-investigator) Janssen, Xanne (Co-investigator) Kirk, Alison (Co-investigator) Knifton, Lee (Co-investigator) Lenhart, Otto (Co-investigator) Maguire, Roma (Co-investigator) Morton, Alec (Co-investigator) Quinn, Neil (Co-investigator) Scott, Fraser (Co-investigator) Suckling, Colin (Co-investigator) Ward, Andrew (Co-investigator) Williams, Lynn (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 16-Jan-2021
A new drug discovery pipeline for animal African trypanosomiasis
Suckling, Colin (Principal Investigator) Burley, Glenn (Co-investigator)
"A disproportionate burden of the world's infectious diseases (both human and veterinary) fall upon the African continent. Among the most devastating of the infectious agents of animals are the trypanosomes that cause Animal African Trypanosomosis (AAT). Transmitted primarily by tsetse and other biting flies, the disease is present in 40 African countries and affects nearly all domestic animals. The overall economic losses attributable to AAT are estimated at $4.75 billion per annum. These are losses borne principally by those who can least afford them: small-scale subsistence farmers and rural communities in AAT-affected areas of large parts of sub-Saharan Africa who rely on livestock for their livelihoods. Current AAT control tools rely extensively on trypanocidal drugs for the treatment of infected animals and for prophylaxis of infection. The drugs are widely available but were developed over 50 years ago and have significant limitations in terms of safety and increasingly lack efficacy against emergent drug-resistant trypanosomes.

Over ten million km2 of Africa are infested by tsetse flies and thus affected by AAT; this represents a substantial portion of Africa's fertile and watered land. Within this area, millions of small-scale livestock keepers rely on an estimated 55 million cattle and 70 million sheep and goats for their livelihoods and food security. These regions are under sustained and increasing pressure to produce more food for growing populations, increasing per capita consumption of meat and dairy products, climate change and desertification all combine to require increased agricultural output within the potentially productive areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Losses arising from AAT are both direct (e.g. estimated annual death of 3 million cattle) and indirect as a result of productivity losses (e.g. benefits of up to $7,000 per km2 from removing AAT). The net effect is a significant constraint on growth and development of the dairy and beef sectors, as well as sheep and goat rearing in the regions affected. Trypanocidal drugs are the mainstay in the control of AAT because of the absence of realistic prospects for vaccines. Vector control has had limited success and showed poor sustainability, the more so in areas where non-tsetse fly transmission is important (e.g. parts of Africa, but particularly in the Far East and South America too).
The Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicine (GALVmed) was founded to help channel global efforts into amelioration of the burden placed upon the world's food security brought about by various infectious diseases. With substantial funding from the UK Department for International Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GALVmed has become the primary agency involved in efforts to bring new drugs forward to treat AAT.

In this proposal, experts at the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde, and the Roslin Institute of the University of Edinburgh, are coming together to develop a new class of compounds that has been shown to have profound efficacy against the causative agents of AAT, both in vitro and in rodent models of the disease. Chemical structures of those compounds optimised for trypanocidal activity in cattle will be developed with the intention of taking them into clinical development. We will additionally develop new culture systems for the relevant parasite species - a crucial step for rapid and routine screening of our candidate drugs but also large sets of unrelated compounds (chemical libraries), with minimal need for tests in animals. We will also use state of the art biological and computational methods to learn about the internal functioning of the causative parasites, in order to understand how this new class of compound works. This part of the project will also provide key information to allow other classes of compounds to be brought forward, giving an important input to a long-term pipeline of new drugs to treat AAT."
01-Jan-2016 - 31-Jan-2020
A new drug discovery pipeline for animal African trypanosomiasis / R150401-2
Suckling, Colin (Principal Investigator) Burley, Glenn (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2016 - 30-Jan-2019

More projects


Pure and Applied Chemistry
Thomas Graham Building

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