Quinn Group

Our Research

The single molecule of DNA, housed in the nucleus of the cell, contains all the information necessary to encode all biological processes.

A key focus of research within the Quinn group is studying the light activated processes that influence the integrity of this life-giving molecule through photochemical damage induced by either (i) direct UV-light excitation and/or (ii) indirect processes caused by photoexcited molecules and nanoparticles that are bound to DNA. To follow the chemical reactions and understand the time scales of the changes we use time-resolved spectroscopy from the femtosecond to microsecond timescales.

In related research to help understand the functions of DNA we design and build small molecule and nanoparticle DNA probes. Using these probes, we wish to image specific structures of DNA and to report on the chemical environment of the binding site. Nanoparticle design allows us to develop materials capable of (i) delivering small molecules to DNA within cells and (ii) direct interactions with DNA. To aid in this endeavour we also develop novel methods to characterise the strength and specific nature of binding interactions with DNA, and so find ways to improve their performance. Ultimately, through multidiscipline collaborations we seek to employ on the chemistry we have developed to establish new methods to observe and understand the complex workings of DNA in living cells, ideally for finding new drugs and medical applications.

The research is divided into specific projects and driven by talented undergraduate students, graduate students, research associates and collaborators that apply and combine their expertise towards the ultimate goal of understanding more about the fascinating chemistry of DNA.

Recent News

May 3rd 2019

Stephen's paper entitled "Spectroscopic study of the loading of cationic porphyrins by carbon nanohorns as high capacity carriers of photoactive molecules to cells " is accepted to Journal of Materials Chemistry B.

April 25th 2019

Congratulations to Stephen for being one of the three recipients of the BOC Gases Bursaries for Best Postgraduate Project 2019.

April 16th 2019

Clara's paper entitled "Template-Assisted Synthesis of Luminescent Carbon Nanofibers From Bererage-Related Precursors by Microwave Heating " is accepted to Molecules .

April 9th - 11th 2019

Susan, Samir and Stephen attend the Artemis, Octopus and ULTRA User Meeting at St. Catherine's College, Oxford. Susan deliverers an oral presentation describing the use of Gold nanoparticle composite materials as SERS and Radiosensitisation agents. Samir's talk discusses the investigation into the origin of luminescence from carbon dots using Ultra fast techniques . Stephen presents a poster describing the binding of a ruthenium complex to i-motif DNA structures, probed by time resolved spectroscopy.

February 14th 2019

Welcome to Katie Mc Garry who joins the group as a masters student. She will investigate the synthesis and application of Gold nanoparticle, Carbon nanohorn composite formation.

January 21st - 25th 2019

Mark attended an introduction week in Naples, for the Marie Curie Actions network (LightDyNAmics) with the fellow Early Stage Researchers.

January 15th 2019

Susan attended the DNASURF meeting in Brussels to review the exciting work that the team will be doing. https://research.ncl.ac.uk/dnasurf/

January 14th 2019

Congratulations to Dr. Badriah Hifni on the successful passing of her viva and the completion of her doctoral studies.

November 29th 2018

Delighted to have contributed to the study that has just been accepted to Inorganic Chemistry "Spectro-electrochemical Studies on [Ru(TAP)2(dppz)]2+ - Insights into the Mechanism of its Photosensitized Oxidation of Oligonucleotides" Inorg. Chem. 2019, 58, 1, 663-671

November 9th 2018

Congratulations to Dr. Clara Deeney on the completion of her PhD studies and passing her viva. We wish her best of luck in her new endeavors at TMS environmental.

September 24th 2018

Welcome to fourth year project students Paul Clarke and Evan Hackett who have joined the group and will carry out research in the use of carbon nanorhons to transport DNA binding agents and fundamental investigations of nanoparticle binding interactions.

September 21st 2018

Susan delivers a Keynote lecture on ultrafast photoinduced processes between DNA and Ru polypyridyl complexes at the RSC Photophysics & Photochemistry Group Early Career Meeting in Swansea. The meeting was an excellent occasion to see the work of young researchers and congratulations to the committee for organizing such a wonderful event. #RSCPhoto2018!

September 7th 2018

Congratulations to Dr. Samir Belhout who graduated with a PhD today!!

Also congratulations to Maria Byrne and Stephen Naughton who both graduated with BSc Hons.

September 3rd 2018

Welcome Mark Stitch to the group as PhD student. Mark's research will consider DNA binding interaction and photostability.

July 20th 2018

Stephen's paper entitled "Multimodal Microscopy Distinguishes Extracellular Aggregation and Cellular Uptake of Single‚ÄźWalled Carbon Nanohorns" is accepted to Chemistry A European Journal.

July 8th-13th 2018

UCD hosts the prestigious 27th PhotoIUPAC conference co-chaired by Associate Prof. Susan Quinn. Clara delivers a talk communicating her work on the colour tuning of luminescent carbon fibers while Stephen presented a poster describing his work on identifying the binding site of a metal complex in Quadruplex DNA using Time Resolved Infrared Spectroscopy. see for more...

June 2018

The group welcomes summer internship student, Cillian O'Brien, who will be working under the supervision of Clara Deeney on dye labelling/gold nanoparticle functionalisation of carbon nanofibers.

May 10th 2018

Congratulations to Dr. Samir Belhout on the completion of his PhD studies and passing his viva. The group bid farewell to him as he starts his new endeavours as a Post Doctoral Fellow in UCD Chemical Engineering.

April 26th 2018

The group attends UCD Research Day 2018, where Stephen, Clara and Dorottya presented posters. Clara is awarded the BOC gases bursary for Best Postgraduate Research Project and delivers an oral presentation on her research. 4th year undergraduate student, Veronica receives award for Best 4th Year Poster in Chemistry.

April 20th 2018

Congratulations to Dr. Frederico Baptista on the successful passing of his viva and the completion of his doctoral studies.

January 2018

Welcome to Martin McInerney who has joined the group as a 3rd year undergraduate placement student, who will be joining the group until July.