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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Dr Elena De Vita

Dr Elena

Lecturer in Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology (T&R)

Room Number: Joseph Priestley Building, G.07
Twitter: @Elena_De_Vita


Elena graduated in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technologies in the Department of Pharmacy at University of Pisa in 2014. Her Master’s thesis reported the development of novel carboxylic acid-based inhibitors of Matrix metalloproteases (Prof Armando Rossello). She then joined the Cancer Drug Development group at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ, Heidelberg) as a DKFZ-MOST funded PhD student (German-Israeli collaboration). Her dissertation focused on the development of covalent inhibitors of a secreted serine protease (KLK6) under the supervision of Dr Aubry Miller.

Following a short EMBO-funded visit to Imperial College, Elena joined the Tate group as a CRUK Research associate to work on the development of covalent inhibitors for the small GTPase Rab27A. She continued this work as a Marie SkÅ‚odowska Curie Fellow from 2020 and successively as a Co-investigator funded by Worldwide Cancer Research (2022). In 2021, Elena participated in the winning team at the Merck Innovation Cup and in 2022 she was shortlisted for the L’Oréal-UNESCO UK For Women In Science programme.

Elena joined the Department of Biochemistry at QMUL in September 2023 as a Lecturer in Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology. Her research interests focus on covalent ligand discovery and development and novel pharmacological modalities for use in Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery.


  • Membrane and Cellular Biochemistry (Lab Practicals) - BIO263 


Research Interests:

Building on a track-record in covalent drug discovery (The Future of Covalent Drugs, Discovery Report Q3, C&EN, 2022), the De Vita group aims at integrating the advantages of small molecule covalent ligands to advance novel applications in Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery. We are interested in developing novel assays and techniques to discover and optimise small molecule covalent binders for challenging targets, which have potential applications in the rising field of chemically induced proximity. Furthermore, we are constantly on the look for Chemical Biology methodologies that will enable understanding of small molecule and protein function in cells with a translational perspective.

Current research lines are focused on PHOSphorylation TArgeting Chimeras (PHOSTACs), a chemically induced proximity approach that employs bifunctional ligands to recruit a protein phosphatase (PP) in the proximity of a phosphorylated protein of interest to drive targeted protein dephosphorylation. Small molecule PHOSTACs will be developed to uncover the role of the unknown phosphoproteome, which still represents the majority of all known phosphosites profiled in humans to date. Mainly focusing on cancer research, we aim to further study the mechanism of action of PHOSTACs and develop ligands with improved pharmacological properties to explore novel therapeutic opportunities in cancer, where protein hyperphosphorylation is a well-known driver of disease.


You can find a list of publications from Elena here (EDV Lab website).

Elena's Google Scholar Profile

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