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Dr Colin Campbell

Dr Colin Campbell
Senior Lecturer in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry
Room 280

School of Chemistry
Joseph Black Building
West Mains Road

0131 651 3049

Research Interests: 
Nanosensors, electrochemistry, SERS, nanotechnology, redox biology.

My research direction is towards understanding the role of redox chemistry in biological systems. Understanding how redox chemistry impacts biological function is important because it not only underpins normal cell function, but when it goes wrong it is implicated in diseases ranging from neurodegeneration to cancer.

This research has two distinct components:

  1. SERS nanosensors for measuring intracellular redox potential.
  2. Mapping circuits of redox regulation in cells using systems-biology notation.

SERS Nanosensors

Gold nanoshells (metal-coated dielectrics) are a novel-class of optically tunable nanoparticle for which optical absorption can be controlled by adjusting the dimensions of the core and shell. This property can be exploited to design nanoparticles optimized for use in spectral regions where most biological materials are fairly transparent and exhibit low autofluorescence.

We recently reported the first use of gold nanoshells as intracellular sensors based on surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) and have since established that these materials exhibit low toxicity to the cells of interest.

We are now actively developing sensors based on chemically modified nanoshells to measure redox potential in living cells and have recently published our work in ACS Nano.

Dr Colin Campbell research image

Redox Systems Biology

We have are interested in redox biology and published a new approach to mapping redox-regulated pathways in biological systems. The term “Redox signalling” describes a process through which cells control their function by regulating the oxidation state of key molecules such as proteins and lipids.

Our aim is to use our SERS nanosensors to map redox potential distributions in living cells and use these to understand how redox signaling controls cell phenotype.


V. Mallikarjun, D.J. Clarke, C.J. Campbell, Cellular Redox Potential and the Biomolecular Electrochemical Series: A Systems Hypothesis. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 2012, 53, 280-288

C. Auchinvole, P. Richardson, V. Mallikarjun, C. Mcguinnes, K. Donaldson, H. McNab, C.J. Campbell, Monitoring Intracellular Redox Potential Changes Using SERS Nanosensors. ACS Nano, 2012, 6, 888–896

M.A. Ochsenkühn, J. Borek, R. Phelps, C.J. Campbell, Redox Potential dependence of peptide structure studied using SERS. Nano Lett. 2011, 11, 2684-2688

Michael A. Ochsenkühn, Philip R.T. Jess; Helene Stoquert; Kishan Dholakia; Colin J. Campbell, Nanoshells for Surface enhanced Raman Spectroscopy in eucaryotic cells: cellular response and sensor development. ACS Nano 2009, 3 (11), 3613-3621