Portrait of Dr Duncan Gill Dr Duncan Gill

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d.m.gill@hud.ac.uk | 01484 473337


Duncan began his career as an analytical chemist at Reckitt and Colman Pharmaceutical Division (now Reckitt Benckiser), working in both Manufacturing and R & D. He became a Graduate of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1991. Following this he carried out graduate studies with Prof. Chris Rayner at the University of Leeds, and was awarded a PhD for studies on the Payne-type rearrangement and nucleophilic trapping of 2,3-epoxysulfides. Between 1994 and 1998 he undertook postdoctoral studies with Professor Garry Procter at the University of Salford, studying the application of hetero-Diels-Alder cycloadditions to the total synthesis of aminoglycoside antibiotics; and with Professor Jim Thomas at the University of Manchester, working on the total synthesis of the bryostatins.

Duncan joined the Process R&D department of AstraZeneca Charnwood in 1999 as a process chemist. He specialised in early phase development projects, working closely with Medicinal Chemistry teams to design innovative routes to new pharmaceutical compounds, and leading teams of chemists, analysts and engineers in manufacturing campaigns at laboratory, kilo-lab and pilot plant scale. He developed an interest and expertise in metal catalysis as leader of the AZ Global Catalysis Group, acted as the AZ technical leader in a consortium that successfully bid for EU FP7 funding to investigate catalysis in continuous flow manufacturing processes, and ran an independent research program devising new routes to chiral heterocyclic scaffolds. Duncan joined the University of Huddersfield in 2011 as Senior Research Fellow.

Duncan serves as a committee member of the RSC Heterocyclic and Synthesis Group, and as treasurer of the Gregynog Synthesis Workshop, an annual conference for young synthetic organic chemists.

Research and Scholarship

Duncan’s research is inspired by his extensive experience as a research and development chemist in the pharmaceutical industry, and is predicated on core expertise in synthetic organic chemistry and catalysis. Key themes are:

  • Preparation of new antibiotics and anti-tumour compounds, by both de novo synthesis and chemical modification of natural products;
  • Asymmetric catalysis, utilizing a variety of complementary techniques, for example: homogeneous and supported metal-ligand complexes; enzymatic catalysis; organocatalysis and phase transfer conditions;
  • New synthetic methodology for streamlined manufacturing processes, such as functionalization of conventionally unreactive C-H bonds;
  • Design and synthesis of new chiral heterocyclic scaffolds based on challenging architecture such as spirocyclic, bridged bicyclic, and uncommon ring sizes;
  • Innovative manufacturing technology, such as continuous flow processing, membrane reactors and microwave heating;
  • Green and sustainable chemical manufacturing.

Projects involve a combination of cutting-edge synthetic chemistry and catalysis; advanced analytical techniques; reactor technology; computational methods and drug design.

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Abdulla, O., Clayton, A., Faulkner, R., Gill, D., Rice, C., Walton, S. and Sweeney, J. (2017) ‘Catalytic sp3 -sp3 Functionalisation of Sulfonamides: Late-Stage Modification of Drug-Like MoleculesChemistry - A European Journal , 23 (7), pp. 1494-1497. ISSN 0947-6539


Adams, K., Ball, A., Birkett, J., Brown, L., Chappell, B., Gill, D., Lo, P., Patmore, N., Rice, C., Ryan, J., Raubo, P. and Sweeney, J. (2016) ‘An iron-catalysed C–C bond-forming spirocyclization cascade providing sustainable access to new 3D heterocyclic frameworksNature Chemistry , 9 (4), pp. 396-401. ISSN 1755-4330


Sweeney, J., Gill, D., McLay, N., Waring, M. and Wilkinson, C. (2014) ‘An Improved Method for Difluorocyclopropanation of AlkenesSynlett , 25 (12), pp. 1756-1758. ISSN 0936-5214


Bogacki, R., Gill, D., Kerr, W., Lamont, S., Parkinson, J. and Paterson, L. (2013) ‘Flexible access to conformationally-locked bicyclic morpholinesChemical Communications , 49 (79), pp. 8931-8933. ISSN 1359-7345


Sulur, M., Sharma, P., Ramakrishnan, R., Naidu, R., Merifield, E., Gill, D., Clarke, A., Thomson, C., Butters, M., Bachu, S., Benison, C., Dokka, N., Fong, E., Hose, D., Howell, G., Mobberley, S., Morton, S., Mullen, A., Rapai, J. and Tejas, B. (2012) ‘Development of Scalable Manufacturing Routes to AZD1981. Application of the Semmler?Wolff Aromatisation for Synthesis of the Indole-4-amide CoreOrganic Process Research and Development , 16 (11), pp. 1746-1753. ISSN 1083-6160

Gill, D (2012) ‘Stereoselective synthesis of a dialkylhydantoin featuring an asymmetric Strecker reaction on an acyclic dialkyl ketoneTetrahedron Letters , 53 (15), pp. 1951-1953. ISSN 0040-4039

Brice, H., Gill, D., Goldie, L., Keegan, P., Kerr, W. and Svensson, P. (2012) ‘Stereocontrolled access to optically-enriched oxabispidinesChemical Communications , 48 (40), pp. 4836-4838. ISSN 1359-7345

Brown, J., Chudasama, V., Giles, M., Gill, D., Keegan, P., Kerr, W., Munday, R., Griffin, K. and Watts, A. (2012) ‘E- and Z-Stereoselectivity in the preparation of enamides from glycidyl sulfonamides and carbamatesOrganic & Biomolecular Chemistry , 10 (3), pp. 509-511. ISSN 1477-0520


Gill, D., Taylor, N. and Thomas, E. (2011) ‘Synthesis of 2,6-cis-disubstituted 4-methylenetetrahydropyrans by oxy-Michael additionTetrahedron , 67 (27-28), pp. 5034-5045. ISSN 0040-4020


Gill, D., Dyke, A., Harvey, J., Hester, A., Lloyd-Jones, G., Paz Munoz, M. and Sheperson, I. (2008) ‘Decoupling Deprotonation from Metalation: Thia-Fries RearrangementAngewandte Chemie International Edition , 47 (27), pp. 5067-5070. ISSN 14337851


Alcaraz, M., Atkinson, S., Cornwall, P., Foster, A., Gill, D., Humphries, L., Keegan, P., Kemp, R., Merifield, E., Nixon, R., Noble, A., O'Beirne, D., Patel, Z., Perkins, J., Rowan, P., Sadler, P., Singleton, J., Tornos, J., Watts, A. and Woodland, I. (2005) ‘Efficient Syntheses of AZD4407 via Thioether Formation by Nucleophilic Attack of Organometallic Species on SulphurOrganic Process Research and Development , 9 (5), pp. 555-569. ISSN 1083-6160

Research Degree Supervision

Postgraduate research opportunities with Dr Duncan Gill