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Professor Colin Campbell

Dr Colin Campbell

Personal Chair of Medical and Biological Spectroscopy

Room 248

University of Edinburgh
Joseph Black Building
David Brewster Road

Research Interests

Nanosensors, electrochemistry, SERS, nanotechnology, redox biology.

Research Overview

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.


  1. S.E. Thurlow, D.P. Kilgour, D.J. Campopiano, C.L. Mackay, P.R.R. Langridge-Smith, D.J. Clarke, C.J. Campbell. Determination of Protein Thiol Reduction Potential by Isotope Labeling and Mass Measurement, Anal Chem, 2016, 88, 2727
  2. P.I.T. Thomson, V.L. Camus, Y. Hu and C.J. Campbell. Series of Quinone-Containing Nanosensors for Biologically Relevant Redox Potential Determination by Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy. Anal Chem, 2015, 87, 4719
  3. L.E. Jamieson, D.J. Harrison, C.J. Campbell. Chemical analysis of multicellular tumor spheroids. Analyst, 2015, 140, 3910
  4. J. Jiang, K. Fisher, C. Auchinvole, C.J. Campbell. Quantitative Measurement of Redox Potential in Hypoxic Cells Using SERS Nanosensors, 2014, Nanoscale. 20, 12104