David Bowkett

Personal photo - David Bowkett

David Bowkett

Doctoral Student at the

Rex Richards Building, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QU


I studied Chemistry (MChem) at Pembroke College, Oxford (right), undertaking a project in the group of Dr. Stephen Fletcher during my fourth year. The aim of the project was to develop an organocatalyst for the formation of amides with alpha stereocentres from amines and carboxylic acids. We aimed to achieve this by the kinetic resolution of a racemic mixture of either an amine or an acid with an alpha stereocentre (below). I am now a member of Keble College.


I am interested in the use of structural biology and bioinformatics for the rational design of new chemical probes for proteins involved in reading post translational modifications of histone tails. I believe at all times it is important to remember that proteins are made up of covalently bonded atoms, and that their activities and binding can be rationalised in terms of organic chemistry. I am convinced that this is a more instructive way to think about proteins than as a coloured blob on a PowerPoint presentation or as a combination of letters and numbers on the page of a textbook!

Away from science, I am a passionate advocate of schemes designed to widen participation in higher education. I believe it is of great importance to both our academic institutions and society that people from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply to top universities like Oxford. I attended a state school in the South Wales valleys that sent very few people to universities outside of Wales and I never considered applying to Oxford. Luckily I was persuaded to go on an open day by my headteacher, the experience totally changed my mind and persuaded me to apply. I have been involved in numerous open days and outreach schemes and I always strive to provide a similar experience to the one I had on my open day. In my spare time I enjoy playing football and cricket, reading, and playing my guitar badly.


  • Completed a 10-week short project in the group of Prof. Mark Moloney in the Department of Chemistry, designing and synthesising novel fragments for fragment based drug design. It is hoped that these fragments will be of value when designing drugs for the inhibition of protein-protein interactions.
  • Completed a 10-week short project in the Structural Genomics Consortium under the supervision of Dr. Paul Brennan and Dr. Brian Marsden investigation the realtionship between sequence, structure and function in PHD fingers. These zinc bidning domains are known to be involved with 'reading' epigentic modifications to histone tails. They are most commonly asociated with binding to H3K4, although they are believed to have a broader range of functions when combined in tandem with other epigentic reading domains.
  • I am studying for my DPhil at the Structural Genomics Consortium under the supervision of Dr. Paul Brennan, with co-supervision from Prof. Chris Schofield(Dept. of Chemistry). During my project I will be investigating the potential of PHD fingers as drug targets. This will involve analysis of currently available sequence and structure data, as well as a range of experimental techniques. The project will be done in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline.


  • 2013 - Faith Ivens Franklin Travel Award
  • 2013 - Keble Association Travel Grant
  • 2012 - DTC Short Project Prize
  • 2011 - EPSRC D.Phil Studentship
  • 2010 - Domus Scholarship (Pembroke College)


  • 2013 - European School of Medicinal Chemistry, Urbino, Italy (Poster)
  • 2013 - 3rd Oxford Symposium on Epigenetic Mechanisms on Health & Disease (Poster)



  • 2012-2013 - Biophysical Chemistry (Pembroke and Wadham Colleges)