UCL School of Pharmacy

Dr Zoe Waller

Dr Zoe Waller

Associate Professor in Drug Discovery

Pharma & Bio Chemistry

UCL School of Pharmacy

Joined UCL
31st Jul 2020

Research summary

Zoё’s research is focussed at the biophysical interface between chemistry and biology and they are particularly interested in drug-nucleic acid interactions and studying alternative DNA structures. Zoё’s group uses many different chemical biology experimental approaches, including organic synthesis, biophysics and molecular biology. They specialise in biophysics, in particular using spectroscopic methods for nucleic acid structure characterisation and ligand binding: UV-vis, circular dichroism, fluorescence, FRET, NMR and surface plasmon resonance. Their research has two general themes: switching DNA conformation for uses in nanotechnology and targeting DNA/RNA with small molecule ligands in biology. The work has applications in nanotechnology, chemical biology and development of novel therapeutics for genetic diseases such as cancer, diabetes or fragile X syndrome.


Zoё graduated with a MChem (Distinction) in Chemistry with Pharmaceutical and Forensic Science from the University of Bradford in 2005. They then moved to the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge to continue their studies towards a PhD in Chemical Biology under the supervision of Sir Shankar Balasubramanian. Zoё’s thesis was based on the design, properties and function of small molecule ligands which interact with G-quadruplex DNA. Whilst completing their PhD they were involved with teaching and demonstrating undergraduate students and also STIMULUS, where they helped run after-school Science classes. In 2008 Zoё was awarded the Corporate Associates Prize for Practical Class Demonstration in recognition of "outstanding qualities in the teaching of practical chemistry". After completing their PhD in 2009 they gained further teaching experience within the secondary education sector before taking up a position as Senior Demonstrator in Medicinal Chemistry in the School of Pharmacy at UEA. After gaining some further experience in industry at HFL Sport Science Zoё returned to UEA School of Pharmacy in late 2010 as a Junior Lecturer in Chemical Biology. They were promoted to Lecturer in 2014 and Senior Lecturer in 2017. Zoё moved to UCL School of Pharmacy in July 2020 in the Department of Pharmaceutical and Biological Chemistry as an Associate Professor. Zoё is currently on the committee of the Royal Society of Chemistry Nucleic Acids Group (Secretary) and the Chemical Biology and Bio-organic interest group, part of the Royal Society of Chemistry degree accreditation panel and a STEM ambassador. They are a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) and the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).