Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research


Professor David (Dai) Selwood

Our laboratory conducts research on the edge of chemistry and biology using the latest techniques and developing new ones for the study of biological systems.

Professor of Biological and Medicinal Chemistry


Tel: 020 7679 6716
Email: d.selwood@ucl.ac.uk
IRIS Profile: https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/browse/profile?upi=DLSEL05

The laboratory of David Selwood conducts research on the edge of chemistry and biology using the latest techniques and developing new ones for the study of biological systems. We utilize computational molecular design in many aspects of our research and work with Dr Edith Chan to deliver this.  We also collaborate extensively with biologists in academia and industry. 

Some of the lab's current research projects are shown below.

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

  • Learn about our new prototype MS drug a BK channel activator.
  • Neuroprotection, using sodium channel blockers to maintain nerve function in MS.
  • Mitochondrial targeting of therapeutic agents - cyclosporin.

New cancer agents

  • SMoCs, Small Molecule Carriers of biomolecules.
  • FLIP protein as a cancer target - stapled peptide design.
  • Neuropilin as a cancer target.


  • Design of novel non-peptide agonists for NPR-C.

Fragment based drug design

HIV and other virus

UCL Chemibank

Academic Career
  • 1995 - to date Head of Biological and Medicinal Chemistry, Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, University College London.
  • 2005 - to date Founder and director of Canbex Ltd
  • 2001 - Jun 2006 Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, NCE discovery Ltd (Medicinal chemistry company now Domainex Ltd)
  • 1993 - Senior Research Scientist, , Wellcome Research Laboratories, Beckenham, Kent
  • 1983 - World Heath Organisation funded postdoctorate working on river blindness
  • 1982 - PhD, University of Southampton.


Baker D, Pryce G, Visintin C, Sisay S, Bondarenko AI, Vanessa Ho WS, Jackson SJ, Williams TE, Al-Izki S, Sevastou I, Okuyama M, Graier WF, Stevenson LA, Tanner C, Ross R, Pertwee RG, Henstridge CM, Irving AJ, Schulman J, Powell K, Baker MD, Giovannoni G, Selwood DL. Big conductance calcium-activated potassium channel openers control spasticity without sedation. Br J Pharmacol. 2017 Aug;174(16):2662-2681. doi: 10.1111/bph.13889.

Miyauchi JT, Chen D, Choi M, Nissen JC, Shroyer KR, Djordevic S, Zachary IC, Selwood D, Tsirka SE. Ablation of Neuropilin 1 from glioma-associated microglia and macrophages slows tumor progression. Oncotarget. 2016 7(9):9801-14. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.6877.

Warne J, Pryce G, Hill JM, Shi X, Lennerås F, Puentes F, Kip M, Hilditch L, Walker P, Simone MI, Chan AW, Towers GJ, Coker AR, Duchen MR, Szabadkai G, Baker D, Selwood DL. Selective Inhibition of the Mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore Protects against Neurodegeneration in Experimental Multiple Sclerosis. J Biol Chem. 2016 291(9):4356-73. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M115.700385.

Rasaiyaah J, Tan CP, Fletcher AJ, Price AJ, Blondeau C, Hilditch L, Jacques DA, Selwood DL, James LC, Noursadeghi M, Towers GJ. HIV-1 evades innate immune recognition through specific cofactor recruitment. Nature. 2013;503(7476):402-405. doi: 10.1038/nature12769.

Okuyama M, Laman H, Kingsbury SR, Visintin C, Leo E, Eward KL, Stoeber K, Boshoff C, Williams GH, Selwood DL. (2007). Small molecule mimics of an α-helix for rapid and efficient transport of proteins into cells. Nature Methods 4(2), 153-159.

Chan AW, Laskowski RA, Selwood DL. Chemical fragments that hydrogen bond to Asp, Glu, Arg, and His side chains in protein binding sites. J Med Chem. 2010; 53(8):3086-94.

Further publication information can be viewed at http://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/browse/profile?upi=DLSEL05


Masters in drug design (MSc and MRes)

Established from 2010, this course is an in depth study of modern drug design methods from bioinformatics to molecular modeling and fragment based drug design. Sections on intellectual property and marketing provide a solid background for anyone considering a career in the pharmaceutical and health industries.

Chem3204: Principles of drug design. (Antiviral and anticancer chemotherapy). 

This is part of the third year course for chemistry undergraduates taking the medicinal chemistry options (UCL department of chemistry).

A systematic look at new anti-viral therapies taking HIV as an example. We investigate the life cycle of HIV and examine the places where therapeutic intervention can take place.

MSc Cancer

• Introduction to medicinal chemistry. An introduction to medicinal chemistry, from the early days of Paul Erlich to modern structure based techniques.

• Overview of small molecule anticancer drug development

• Small molecule drug design : Molecular modeling


Cancer Research UK

MS Society (UK)

The National MS Society, Fast Forward Group (USA)

Cancer Research UK.




Wellcome Trust