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School of Physical and Chemical Sciences

Dr Lesley Howell


Director of Education | Senior Lecturer

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 6625
Room Number: Room G.03, Joseph Priestley building


Lesley is a Queen Mary Academy Fellow for 2021

Undergraduate Teaching

Module Organiser for Pharmaceutical Chemistry (Sem A) (CHE206A), Advanced Pharmaceutical Chemistry (CHE306U) and Professional Skills in Chemistry (CHE310)

Teaches on:

  • Essential Skills for Chemists (Tutorials) (CHE100)
  • Foundations of Practical Chemistry (CHE101)
  • Practical Chemistry (CHE211)
  • Essential Skills for Chemists II (CHE210)
  • Pharmaceutical Chemistry (Sem A) (CHE206A)
  • Advanced Pharmaceutical Chemistry (CHE306)
  • Professional Skills in Chemistry (CHE310)
  • Chemistry Research Project (CHE600)
  • Chemistry Investigative Project (CHE601)
  • Chemistry MSci Research Project (CHE700)

Postgraduate Teaching

Teaches on:

  • Advanced Pharmaceutical Chemistry (CHE306P)


Research Interests:

Research in our group is focused on two themes:

  1. Medicinal Chemistry
  2. Chemical Education

The medicinal chemistry research is focused on protein-protein interactions (PPIs) and harnessing their potential as drug targets. We have a particular interest in G-protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) and collaborate with the McCormick Group at the WHRi on this. We use both solution and solid phase synthesis to generate compounds/peptides capable on interacting with these targets. We take inspiration from natural products when designing compounds but also design new molecules from scratch. Within this theme we have several projects:

  • Development of new approaches/technology to target PPIs
  • Disruption of G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) heteromers as novel drug targets
  • Identification and synthesis of ligands for orphan GPCRs

The chemical education research is focused on several areas including outreach and inclusion and diversity. We are interested in the impact of chemistry outreach work. Specifically, what are the most effective forms of outreach and who benefits the most from these with a view to improve the outreach provision here at QMUL and across the UK. We also have an interest in decolonising the National Curriculum (and higher education curriculum) by highlighting the contributions of BAME scientists in the Chemical Sciences and collaborate with Dr Tippu Sheriff on this project. Specific projects include:

  • Does chemistry outreach influence a student’s university choices?
  • Which chemistry outreach events are the most effective?
  • Highlighting the contributions of BAME Scientist within the Chemical Sciences
  • The development and implementation of mixed reality environments to enhance the laboratory experience

Research department


  • Howell LA, Beekman AM (2020). In silico peptide-directed ligand design complements experimental peptide-directed binding for protein–protein interaction modulator discovery. nameOfConference

  • Moreno-Delgado D, Puigdellívol M, Moreno E et al. (2020). Modulation of dopamine D1 receptors via histamine H3 receptors is a novel therapeutic target for Huntington's disease. nameOfConference

  • Botta J, Bibic L, Killoran P et al. (2019). Design and development of stapled transmembrane peptides that disrupt the activity of G-protein coupled receptor oligomers.. nameOfConference

  • Mills SC, HOWELL LA, Beekman A et al. (2017). Rac1 plays a role in CXCL12 but not CCL3-induced chemotaxis and Rac1 GEF inhibitor NSC23766 has off target effects on CXCR4. nameOfConference

  • Beekman AM, O'Connell MA, Howell LA (2017). Peptide‐Directed Binding for the Discovery of Modulators of α‐Helix‐Mediated Protein–Protein Interactions: Proof‐of‐Concept Studies with the Apoptosis Regulator Mcl‐1. nameOfConference

  • HOWELL LA, Beekman A, O'Connell MA (2017). Peptide directed binding; a novel approach for the discovery of modulators of alpha-helix mediated protein-protein interactions demonstrated with apoptosis regulating Mcl-1. nameOfConference

  • HOWELL LA, Moreno E, Chiarlone A et al. (2017). Singular Location and Signaling Profile of Adenosine A2A-Cannabinoid CB1 Receptor Heteromers in the Dorsal Striatum. nameOfConference

  • Busnelli M, Kleinau G, Muttenthaler M et al. (2016). Design and Characterization of Superpotent Bivalent Ligands Targeting Oxytocin Receptor Dimers via a Channel-Like Structure. nameOfConference

  • Beekman AM, O'Connell MA, Howell LA (2016). Identification of Small-Molecule Inhibitors of the Antiapoptotic Protein Myeloid Cell Leukaemia-1 (Mcl-1). nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Beekman AM, Howell LA (2016). Small-Molecule and Peptide Inhibitors of the Pro-Survival Protein Mcl-1. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Angulo J, Goffin SA, Gandhi D et al. (2016). Unveiling the "three-Finger Pharmacophore" Required for p53-MDM2 Inhibition by Saturation-Transfer Difference (STD) NMR Initial Growth-Rates Approach. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Austin MJ, Hearnshaw SJ, Mitchenall LA et al. (2016). A natural product inspired fragment-based approach towards the development of novel anti-bacterial agents. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Cominetti MMD, Goffin SA, Raffel E et al. (2015). Identification of a new p53/MDM2 inhibitor motif inspired by studies of chlorofusin. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Viñals X, Moreno E, Lanfumey L et al. (2015). Cognitive impairment induced by delta9- tetrahydrocannabinol occurs through heteromers between cannabinoid CB1 and serotonin 5-HT2A receptors. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Navarro G, Quiroz C, Moreno-Delgado D et al. (2015). Orexin–corticotropin-releasing factor receptor heteromers in the ventral tegmental area as targets for cocaine. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Waller ZAE, Howell LA, Macdonald CJ et al. (2014). Identification and characterisation of a G-quadruplex forming sequence in the promoter region of nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2). nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Rackham BD, Howell LA, Round AN et al. (2013). Non-covalent duplex to duplex crosslinking of DNA in solution revealed by single molecule force spectroscopy. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Marín MJ, Rackham BD, Round AN et al. (2013). A rapid screen for molecules that form duplex to duplex crosslinks in DNA. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Howell LA, Bowater RA, O'Connell MA et al. (2012). Synthesis of Small Molecules Targeting Multiple DNA Structures using Click Chemistry. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Howell LA, Waller ZAE, Bowater R et al. (2011). A small molecule that induces assembly of a four way DNA junction at low temperature. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Howell LA, Gulam R, Mueller A et al. (2010). Design and synthesis of threading intercalators to target DNA. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Howell LA, Howman A, O'Connell MA et al. (2010). ChemInform Abstract: Synthesis and Evaluation of 9‐Aminoacridines Derived from Benzyne Click Chemistry.. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Howell LA, Searcey M (2009). ChemInform Abstract: Targeting Higher‐Order DNA: Beyond the G‐Quadruplex. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Howell LA, Howman A, O'Connell MA et al. (2009). Synthesis and evaluation of 9-aminoacridines derived from benzyne click chemistry. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref
  • Howell LA, Searcey M (2009). Targeting higher-order DNA: Beyond the G-quadruplex. nameOfConference

    QMRO: qmroHref


Current PhD opportunities

  • G-Protein Coupled Receptors as therapeutic targets in drug discovery
  • Identification of inhibitors of the pro-survival protein Mcl-1

PhD supervision

  • Zara Farooq
  • Christos Matsingos

Public Engagement

See the Chemistry Department's outreach activities here.