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Trinity Chemist (Prof. John Kelly) Recognised for Shedding Light on the Mechanism of DNA Damage

Emeritus Professor John Kelly, from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Chemistry, has been recognised for his part in decades-long research that has helped shed light, quite literally, on the precise mechanism of DNA damage.

mechanics of DNA damage image

Professor Kelly is a recipient of the 2016 Rita and John Cornforth Award, along with his collaborators Professor Christine Cardin, University of Reading, and Dr Susan Quinn, University College Dublin. The award, which places an emphasis on the importance of collaboration in scientific research, is handed out annually by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Professor Kelly said:

“I am delighted that our collaboration has been recognised with this award. My interests have always involved exploring photochemical reactions, and to fully understand the processes occurring from the initial absorption of a photon to the formation of a permanent product."

"The roots of our work go back to the 1980s when we started an ambitious project with Dan Bradley and David McConnell to target the reactions that take place in DNA.”

The Dublin-Reading DNA Consortium use specially synthesised molecules to see how – and exactly where – they bind to DNA. The reactions usually involve short-lived chemical species (such as ‘free radicals’), which are damaging to DNA and cells inside the body. The reactions often last for mere picoseconds (a billion times faster than a millisecond). Due to these very narrowest windows of opportunity, specialist crystallography and laser technology techniques are required to provide the all-important series of snapshots that illuminate what is really taking place.

Working in the world-leading Rutherford Appleton Laboratory has recently enabled the scientists to follow the vibrations of excited molecules in DNA crystals, so as to follow the transit of the electrons that lead to DNA damage. That most recent breakthrough also opens the door for studies looking at direct UV excitation of DNA in crystals, which should help us gain an understanding of the processes that cause DNA photo-damage. It should also help related research in the fields of cancer medicine and drug development, as visible light irradiation of the compound in cancer cells leads to their destruction (as has recently been demonstrated by the Trinity groups of Professor Thorri Gunnlaugsson and Clive Williams).

More information available for those who are interested at

Congratulations to Prof. Kelly and all involved.

Major Clean Energy Breakthrough Made by School of Chemistry Researchers

New material will increase adoption of hydrogen as a fuel in energy efficient transportation

The development of a real alternative to fossil fuels is perhaps the greatest technological challenge faced by humanity at present. Now, researchers in the School of Chemistry and CRANN (the Nanoscience Institute based at Trinity College Dublin) have developed a material which enhances the splitting of water at a very low energy cost using earth abundant raw materials. This new material performs as well as the world’s most effective material for water splitting (which is the scarce and expensive ruthenium oxide) but is much less expensive. This is a significant breakthrough, as it means that an energy efficient production of pure hydrogen is now possible using renewable energy sources which will potentially accelerate adoption of hydrogen as a fuel in energy efficient transportation.

Hydrogen has been described as the ultimate clean energy source, it’s seen as very attractive as it is a pollution free fuel and energy carrier which would satisfy much of the energy requirements of our society. Hydrogen is readily prepared by splitting water electrically into its component parts hydrogen and oxygen (a process called electrolysis). However, this process requires a significant energy input. The widespread uptake of hydrogen as a fuel has been hampered by the lack of low cost, earth abundant materials which can accomplish the splitting of water, with minimal energy input, in an economically efficient manner using renewable energy sources.

The CRANN breakthrough recently published in the prestigious international journal ACS Catalysis, has shown that the ruthenium content can be decreased by as much as 90% and substituted with the earth abundant and inexpensive manganese oxide without diminishing the efficiency of the material to split water.

Professor Mike Lyons, Principal Investigator at the School of Chemistry and CRANN : “We are very excited about this very significant breakthrough. The adoption of this material in industry will mean that electrochemical hydrogen generation using photo (electrolysis) is now far more economically viable and will hasten adoption of hydrogen as a fuel in energy efficient transportation. It should be noted that this discovery could only have been accomplished using the world class characterization facilities and opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration available within the School of Chemistry and CRANN.”

Mike Lyons, continued: “Our disruptive materials breakthrough is momentous as it means much more energetically efficient and more economical hydrogen energy. This means that the cost of producing hydrogen via water electrolysis will be significantly reduced, which will result in a more rapid uptake of hydrogen as an automotive fuel.”

Professor Mike Lyons leads the Trinity Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Electrocatalysis Group in the School of Chemistry. He has published two books and more than 126 papers, and has a h-index of 33, which demonstrates the worldwide impact of his research. Working with Professor Mike Lyons on this project, was Professor Paula Colavita, PI in the School of Chemistry/ CRANN, and Michelle Browne, PhD student. Characterisation of the materials were carried out by Dr. Hugo Nolan, supervised by Professor Georg Duesberg, PI in the School of Chemistry and CRANN.

The full review is available here.

1st Medicinal Chemistry Ireland Conference
(July 1st, 2016, Trinity College Dublin)

The Pharmaceutical and Medicinal sectors are of enormous importance for the Irish economy. Academic and industrial research and development in this area will sustain Ireland’s position and as a key player in the global landscape.

Trinity’s School of Chemistry is proud to announce the 1st Medicinal Chemistry Conference Ireland which will be held on 1st July 2016 in Trinity’s Biomedical Science Institute. The conference programme draws together key speakers across academia with innovative researchers from industry.

For a full conference programme and registration details for the event, please visit

Congratulations to Ilaria Meazzini
for winning the prize for best talk at the
RSC MacroGroup Young Researchers Meeting at the University of Liverpool.

Ilaria Meazzini (Evans Group) was awarded first prize in the “best talk” category (sponsored by Domino printing) at the 2016 RSC Macrogroup Young Researchers meeting held at the University of Liverpool on 5-6th April. Ilaria presented her work on perylene dicarboxdiimide–poly(oxyalkylene)/siloxane hybrids for luminescent solar concentrators, which was recently accepted for publication in the 2016 Emerging Investigators issue of the Journal of Materials Chemistry C.

Targeted design leads to tunable photoluminescence from perylene dicarboxdiimide–poly(oxyalkylene)/siloxane hybrids for luminescent solar concentrators, I. Meazzini, N. Willis-Fox, C. Blayo, J. Arlt, S. Clément, R. C. Evans*, J. Mater. Chem. C., 2016, DOI: 10.1039/c5tc03952e.

Well done, Ilaria!

2016 Newly Elected Fellows and Scholars
Trinity Monday Announcements

FELLOWSHIP: Congratulations to Prof. Eoin Scanlan on his election as Fellow to the College on Trinity Monday.

SCHOLARS: Congratulations to all the students who were elected as Scholars of the College on Trinity Monday and in particular to the students who sat the Chemistry Scholar examinations*.

Aoife Gregg*
Eoin James Farrell*
Simon Benson
Jessica Foley
Áine Kennedy
Diarmaid Kelly

Trinity Student Scientific Review (TSSR) Journal
– Volume 2 – launched March 22nd



Congratulations to Alison Hennessy for her work as General Manager and to Kate Reidy for her outstanding work in her role as Chemistry Editor and to all the Chemistry undergraduates who submitted an article for publication, in the new TSSR (Trinity Student Scientific Review) ( Journal.

The authors of the published and price winning chemistry review articles were:

Best Chemistry Essay:
“Climate Change Mitigation Using Metal-Organic Frameworks for Direct Air Capture of CO2”.
Dónal Ring (JS Chemistry)

Best Freshman Essay:
“Prebiotic Chemistry: Common Origins of Glycerol, Amino Acids, and Pyrimidines, and Cosmic Origin of Nature’s Enantiomeric Excess of Amino Acids”
Stephen Byrne (SF Science)

“4-Aminoquinolines as Antimalarial Drugs”
Dylan Lynch (JS Medicinal Chemistry) 

Chemistry students also won in the following categories:

“Hybrid Photovoltaic Thermal Cells: A Viable Solution to the Problem of Renewable Energy”
Kyle Frohna (JS N-PCAM, Physics)

“Long Non-Coding RNA: The Regulatory Web of Genome Regulation”
Jack Schofield, (SF Science, Life Sciences)

Alison Hennessy TSSRTSSR Kate Reidy TSSR
Alison Hennessy (JS N-PCAM) and Kate Reidy (JS NPCAM student and TCD Foundation Scholar) the 2016 TSSR General Manager and Chemistry Editor.

Congratulations to Maria O’Brien on being selected to attend
the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany this summer

Maria O’Brien (Duesberg's Group) has been selected by the scientific review panel of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, to participate in the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, taking place from 26 June to 1 July 2016, in Lindau Germany. Only the 400 most qualified young scientists are given the opportunity to enrich and share the unique atmosphere of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings (which will have 32 Nobel Laureates in attendance).

Congratulations, Maria.

Last updated 16 June 2016 by School of Chemistry (Email).