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Chris Delaforce

BHF CRE Cardiovascular Medicinal Chemistry Graduate Student

Project Title:  Design & validation of novel vascular endothelial cell KCa channels modulators

Supervisors:  Professors Stuart Conway, Chris Garland and Tim Donohoe


I started out at the University of East Anglia, originally doing a biochemistry BSc. During the course I took both biological modules and straight organic chemistry modules. I found I was increasingly drawn to the chemistry aspect of the degree and ended up switching and graduating with a more chemistry orientated Masters degree in Biological Medicinal Chemistry.

I always knew I wanted to do a PhD after my undergraduate. I also knew I was most interested in the biology – chemistry interface after spending a well spent summer working at the Novartis medchem research site in Horsham. The BHF CRE Cardiovascular Medicinal Chemistry DPhil programme at the University of Oxford met all my needs and more.

Like many students looking for a PhD after their undergraduate, I was unsure what project and research group to aim for. Fortunately the BHF course operates as a doctoral training programme allowing me to choose between a list of projects submitted by a list of Oxford researchers. I was able to then choose two of my particular interest. After 6 months of taught courses on medicinal chemistry I spent my first rotation in Professor Veronique Gouverneur’s group working on developing novel fluorine based MRI dyes targeted to cardio tissues to improve realtime imaging of patient heart conditions. I spent my second rotation first in Professor Chris Garland’s group working on micro arteries then in Professors Stuart Conway and Timothy Donohoes’ groups synthesising molecules to dilate these arteries as a novel treatment for hypertension.

I choose the second project. The broad nature of the highly multidisciplinary project appealed to me, crossing pharmacology, biochemistry and medicinal chemistry fields. My supervisors joke that I’m a ‘one man pharmaceutical band’. I am currently in the final year of my DPhil, having synthesized a series of novel molecules I am working towards the next biochemical breakthrough in my project before testing my molecules pharmacological activity. I’d like to thank the BHF CRE for funding my diverse and fascinating DPhil. 

Undergraduate degree:  Biological Medicinal Chemistry, University of East Anglia

Studentship dates: 2014 intake.  October 2014 – September 2018