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Dr Ivanhoe Leung

MChem, DPhil (Oxf)

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Senior Lecturer


Dr Ivanhoe Leung attained his undergraduate and doctorate degrees in Chemistry at the University of Oxford, as a member of St Peter’s College. His DPhil was completed in the laboratories of Profs Christopher J. Schofield FRS and Timothy D. W. Claridge, where he applied NMR spectroscopy to study oxygenase enzymes. After his DPhil he spent a further two years in the same groups as a postdoctoral research assistant. Ivan joined the University of Auckland in September 2014, where he is currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemical Sciences, and co-Deputy Director of the Centre for Green Chemical Science.

For more information about Ivan and his research team, please visit his research group website.

Research | Current

The research of the Leung Research Group lies broadly at the interface between chemistry and biology. We aim to utilise our knowledge in protein structure and enzyme mechanism to help solve some of the world’s most urgent challenges. Our research is multidisciplinary, drawing on the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, biophysical chemistry, enzymology, molecular biology and structural biology. We collaborate closely with a number of research groups from the Schools of Chemical and Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland, as well as colleagues in New Zealand and overseas.

Theme 1: Understanding disease mechanisms

Genetic disorders are associated with many serious and debilitating diseases. Our work aims to understand how genetic mutations may influence the structure and function of proteins and enzymes, establishing the relationship between molecular dysfunctions/dysregulations and the diseases that these mutations may cause.

● Nat. Commun. 201910. 4639.
● Chem. Commun. 2020, 56, 7857–7860.

Theme 2: Improving treatments and therapies

Infectious disease and antibiotic resistance are some of the biggest health challenges that the world are facing today. Our research tackles the underlying mechanisms that are important for the survival of bacteria, enabling new inhibition targets for the development of new antibiotic agents. 

● Drug Discov. Today 201924, 206–216.

Cancer is amongst the leading causes of death worldwide. We study molecular chaperones and DNA repair enzymes with an aim to develop new anti-cancer agents and chemosensitizers to overcome resistance and enhancing the effect of chemotherapy treatments.

● Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 201727, 277–281.
● Int. J. Mol. Sci. 201920, 5333.

Theme 3: Improving agriculture to feed the world 

Despite soaring food cost and the growing world population, millions of tonnes of fresh produce are thrown out every year. We target plant enzymes with an aim to develop new chemical agents to regulate and control the ripening and browning processes of fruits and vegetables in order to reduce unnecessary waste of fresh produce.

● ChemistrySelect 20172, 10435–10441.

Theme 4: Improving methodologies in biochemical research

Protein-ligand interactions are fundamental to almost all biological processes in living organisms. Our laboratory specialises in the application of biophysical techniques, in particular NMR spectroscopy, to measure and quantify such interactions. We also conduct research to improve methodologies for the production and purification of recombinant proteins.

● Sci. Rep. 20177, 43727.
● Sci. Rep. 2019, 9, 8884.
● IUBMB Life 2020, 72, 266–274.

Teaching | Current

Summer School 2020

● CHEM 100   Molecules that Changed the World

Semester One 2020

● CHEM 350   Topics in Chemistry (Course Coordinator)

● CHEM 360   Contemporary Green Chemistry

● CHEM 390   Medicinal Chemistry

● CHEM 750   Advanced Topics in Chemistry

Semester Two 2020

● CHEM 260   Introduction to Green Chemistry

● CHEM 738   Biomolecular Chemistry (Course Coordinator)

Postgraduate supervision

For more detailed information about potential research projects please contact Dr Leung by email. You will have the opportunity to conduct research at the interface between chemistry and biology, and to receive training in molecular biology, enzymology and biophysical chemistry.


● 2019   JSPS HOPE Fellow
● 2019   The University of Auckland Early Career Research Excellence Award



● Scientific Reports, Editorial Board Member

Learned Society

● New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (NZIC) Auckland Branch, Chemical Education Group Representative
● The New Zealand Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (NZSBMB), Auckland Representative

The University of Auckland

● Centre for Green Chemical Science, Co-Deputy Director

Areas of expertise

● Biological and organic NMR spectroscopy
● Protein-ligand interactions
● Inhibitor discovery
● Mechanistic enzymology
● Recombinant protein production and purification

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Correddu, D., Sharma, N., Kaur, S., Varnava, K. G., Mbenza, N. M., Sarojini, V., & Leung, I. K. H. (2020). An investigation into the effect of ribosomal protein S15 phosphorylation on its intermolecular interactions by using phosphomimetic mutant. Chemical communications (Cambridge, England), 56 (57), 7857-7860. 10.1039/d0cc01618g
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Kyriakos Varnava, Mbenza Mbambi Naasson
  • McLarin, M.-A., & Leung, I. K. H. (2020). Substrate specificity of polyphenol oxidase. Critical reviews in biochemistry and molecular biology, 55 (3), 274-308. 10.1080/10409238.2020.1768209
  • Pilkington, L. I., Sparrow, K., Rees, S. W. P., Paulin, E. K., van Rensburg, M., Xu, C. S., ... Leung, E. (2020). Development, synthesis and biological investigation of a novel class of potent PC-PLC inhibitors. European journal of medicinal chemistry, 19110.1016/j.ejmech.2020.112162
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Lisa Pilkington, Shaun Rees, Emily Paulin, Ries Langley, Euphemia Leung, David Barker
  • Eurtivong, C., Pilkington, L. I., van Rensburg, M., White, R. M., Brar, H. K., Rees, S., ... Leung, I. K. H. (2020). Discovery of novel phosphatidylcholine-specific phospholipase C drug-like inhibitors as potential anticancer agents. European journal of medicinal chemistry, 18710.1016/j.ejmech.2019.111919
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Lisa Pilkington, Euphemia Leung, David Barker, Shaun Rees, Emily Paulin
  • Correddu, D., Montaño López JDJ, Angermayr, S. A., Middleditch, M. J., Payne, L. S., & Leung, I. K. H. (2020). Effect of consecutive rare codons on the recombinant production of human proteins in Escherichia coli. IUBMB life, 72 (2), 266-274. 10.1002/iub.2162
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Martin Middleditch
  • Mohan, A., Hadi, J., Gutierrez-Maddox, N., Li, Y., Leung, I. K. H., Gao, Y., ... Quek, S.-Y. (2020). Sensory, Microbiological and Physicochemical Characterisation of Functional Manuka Honey Yogurts Containing Probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri DPC16. Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 9 (1).10.3390/foods9010106
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Siew-Young Quek, Anand Mohan
  • Khomenko, T. M., Zakharenko, A. L., Chepanova, A. A., Ilina, E. S., Zakharova, O. D., Kaledin, V. I., ... Reynisson, J. (2019). Promising New Inhibitors of Tyrosyl-DNA Phosphodiesterase I (Tdp 1) Combining 4-Arylcoumarin and Monoterpenoid Moieties as Components of Complex Antitumor Therapy. International journal of molecular sciences, 21 (1).10.3390/ijms21010126
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Daniel Ayine-Tora, Jinal Patel
  • Mak, O. W., Chand, R., Reynisson, J., & Leung, I. K. H. (2019). Identification of Isoform-Selective Ligands for the Middle Domain of Heat Shock Protein 90 (Hsp90). International journal of molecular sciences, 20 (21).10.3390/ijms20215333
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Raina Chand


Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 8, Room 819
New Zealand

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