DIT's Centre for Biomimetic and Therapeutic Research (CBTR) is a College of Sciences & Health Research Centre based in the Focas Research Institute. It is a research centre dedicated to the application of inorganic chemistry to pharmaceuticals, molecular recognition, biomimetic chemistry and supramolecular chemistry. The research team is led by Professor Michael Devereux, Director and Dean of the College of Sciences & Health, Dr Mary McNamara and Dr Christine O’Connor (School of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences) and Dr Denis O’Shea (School of Food Science and Environmental Health). Postdoctoral researcher Dr Andrew Kellett and a team of postgraduate research students complete the team.

Research focus

There are many reasons why there is growing interest and increased research activity in pharma and biomimetic research. The IPBRC is focussed on research that may lead to the development of novel metal-based pharmaceuticals and novel drug delivery and drug purification systems. There are three main areas of research activity: 

Synthesis of Inorganic Materials

CBTR researchers have successfully developed synthetic strategies for inorganic and supramolecular materials and have established significant ‘know-how’ in this field.  The metal ions of interest to the group include copper, manganese and ruthenium, all of which are biologically important.  Silver is also of particular interest due to its well-known anti-microbial activity.  The team has studied ligands including planar molecules such as phenanthroline which can interact with DNA resulting in metal complexes with significant anti-cancer activity. The group has also used cyclodextrins as ligands for a range of metal-ions which have led to multi-functional materials with applications in drug delivery and drug purification.

Characterisation, Chemical and Biological Assays

The group has significant expertise in the application of a range of spectroscopic techniques for the characterisation of materials.  They routinely use techniques such as vibrational (both IR and Raman), NMR and X-ray crystallography.  The team has also developed new techniques to study drug-DNA interactions including electronic, fluorescence and circular dichroic spectroscopies. The biomimetic properties of novel materials synthesised by the group are evaluated using a range of chemical and biological assays.  Superoxide dismutase, catalase and nuclease activities are used to study the mode of action of metal-based therapeutics and the centre collaborates with Nanolab and the Radiation and Environmental Science Centre to investigate the cytotoxicity of these novel materials.


The Inorganic Pharma and Biomimetic Centre has developed many novel materials with significant properties for application as pharmaceuticals, molecular hosts and biomimetics.  Novel cyclodextrin complexes have been constructed for drug encapsulation and enantiomeric purification.  The drugs of interest are DOPA (Anti-Parkinson) and Methotrexate (Anti-Cancer).  They have developed metal complexes with anti-fungal activity that is significantly better than commercially available drugs.  Recently the group has developed materials with significant activity against cancer cell lines that are resistant to current chemotherapeutics.