BSc (Pharm) (Hons), National University of Singapore
PhD (Medicinal Chemistry), University of Bath, UK
University of Oxford, UK (Post Doc)
UCL School of Pharmacy, UK (Post Doc)
Teaching Activities in NUS
I am currently involved in teaching the following modules:
- PR2115 Medicinal Chemistry for Drug Design (Module Coordinator)
- PR4205 Bioorganic Principles of Medicinal Chemistry (Lectures on Epigenetics)
- PHS2143 Analytical Techniques and Pharmaceutical Application
- UROPS Chair
Our group is fascinated by how environmental factors such as diet, lifestyle, behaviour and emotional state can alter the way in which our genes are expressed. This is achieved primarily through chemical modifications on DNA, RNA and histone proteins, without any change in the underlying DNA sequence. The study of how these modifications interact with each other to bring about gene regulation is known as epigenetics. Importantly, dysregulation of these epigenetic processes provide the mechanism to many of the human diseases, such as cancer, metabolic disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. They also appear to be heritable, allowing one generation to pass on gene expression patterns (along with disease susceptibility or protection) to the next generation.
Our research seeks to understand the epigenetic basis of diseases through the discovery of small molecule probe and inhibitors. We use a combination of approaches in our studies, including organic synthesis, molecular modelling, structure-based design, molecular biology, biochemical assays and biophysical techniques, such as X-ray crystallography, mass spectrometry (non-denaturing ESI-MS, MALDI-TOF), DSF, ITC, SPR and CD analyses.
Current research projects include:
27. Das, M.; Yang, T.; Dong, J.; Prasetya, F.; Xie, Y.; Wong, K.; Cheong, A.; Woon, E. C. Y.* Multi-protein dynamic combinatorial chemistry: a novel strategy that leads to simultaneous discovery of subfamily-selective inhibitors for nucleic acid demethylases FTO and ALKBH3. Chemistry- An Asian Journal, 2018, doi:10.1002/asia.201800729 (in press)
**Work highlighted in Cover Image
23. Lim, A.; Zhou, J.; Sinha, R. A.; Singh, B. K.; Ghosh, S.; Lim, K. H.; Chow, P. K. H.; Woon, E. C. Y. and Yen, P. M. Hepatic FTO expression is increased in NASH and its silencing attenuates palmitate acid-induced lipotoxicity. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 2016, 479, 476-481.
22. Paine, H. A.; Nathubhai, A.; Woon, E. C. Y.; Sunderland, P. T.; Wood, P. J.; Mahon, M. F.; Lloyd, M. D.; Thompson, A. S.; Haikarainen, T.; Narwal, M. et al. Exploration of the nicotinamide-binding site of the tankyrases, identifying 3-arylisoquinolin-1-ones as potent and selective inhibitors in vitro. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, 2015, 23, 5891-5908.
21. Toh, J. D. W.; Sun, L.; Lau, L. Z. M.; Tan, J.; Low, J. J. A.; Tang, C. W. Q.; Cheong, E. J. Y.; Tan, M. J. H.; Chen, Y.; Hong, W.; Gao, Y-G*., Woon. E. C. Y.* A Strategy Based on Nucleotide Specificity Leads to Selective Inhibition of N6-Methyladenosine Demethylase FTO. Chemical Science, 2015, 6, 112-122.
**Work featured in Front Cover Image in inaugural online edition
20. Woon, E. C. Y.;Sunderland, P. T.; Paine, H. A.; et. al. One-pot tandem Hurtley–retro-Claisen–cyclisation reactions in the synthesis of 3-substituted analogues of 5-aminoisoquinolin-1-one (5-AIQ), a water-soluble inhibitor of PARPs. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, 2013, 21, 5218-5227.
18. Demetriades, M.; Leung, I. K. H.; Ratcliffe, P. J.; Woon, E. C. Y.;* Schofield, C. J.* Dynamic combinatorial chemistry employing boronic acids/boronate esters leads to potent oxygenase inhibitors. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2012, 51, 6672-6675.
invention featured in SciBX
14. Yeoh, K. K.; Chan, M. C.; Thalhammer, A.; Demetriades, M.; Chowdhury, R.; Tian, Y. M.; Stolze, I.; McNeill, L. A.; Lee, M. G.; Woon, E. C. Y.; Mackeen, M.;et. al. Dual-action inhibitors of HIF prolyl hydroxylases that induce binding of a second iron. Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, 2013, 11, 732-745 DOI: 1039/C2OB26648B.
4. Woon, E. C. Y; Dhami, A.; Mahon, M. F.; Threadgill, M. D. 3-Substituted-5-nitroisocoumarins from tandem Castro-Stephens coupling- 6-endo-dig cyclisation of 2-iodo-3-nitrobenzoic acid and arylethynes and from ring-closure of methyl 2‑alkynyl-3-nitrobenzoates with electrophiles. Tetrahedron, 2006, 62, 4829-4837.
1. Wong, S. M.; Shah, B.; Shah, P.; Butt, I. C.; Woon, C. Y.; Wright, J. A.; Thompson, A. S.; Upton, C.; Threadgill, M. D. A new synthesis of “push-pull” naphthalenes by condensation of nitro‑2‑methylbenzoate esters with dimethylacetamide dimethyl acetal. Tetrahedron Letters, 2002, 43, 2299-2302.
Patents/ Commercialisation of research
- Woon, E. C. Y.; Sun, L. FTO inhibitors as therapeutic compounds.
Patent pending (US Provisional Patent Application No. 1409405.6)
Filed on 28 May 2014.
- Threadgill, M. D.; Lloyd, M. D.; Thompson, A. S.; Nathubhai, A.; Wood, P. J.; Paine, H. A.; Kumpan, E.; Sunderland, P. T.; Woon, E. C. Y. Tankyrase Inhibitors.
WO 2014087165 A1 (PCT/GB2013/053215)
Filed on 5 December 2013, and issued on 12 June 2014.
NUS FoS highlight: Uncovering secrets behind FTO specificity
Our work on ‘FTO inhibitors as promising antiobesity drugs’ received national and international media coverage
A patent for this invention has been filed: Provisional Patent Application No. 1409405.6 Filed on 28 May 2014.
The Straits Times, 11 Nov 2014, Home, page B5 NUS team’s drug finding could help in obesity fight
Lianhe Zaobao, 24 Oct 2014, page 9 Local researchers uncover several inhibitors of obesity
MyPaper, 21 Oct 2014, page B3 New anti-obesity drugs may soon be available
National Research Foundation website: Scientific Advances Targeting genes to fight the flab
- 938LIVE, 20 Oct 2014 Live interview on radio: Researchers develop novel solutions to fight the obesity gene
- NUS Website: Research Highlight A potential new drug for obesity
- Asia One, 13 Nov 2014 NUS team’s drug finding could help in obesity
- MIMS, 1 Nov 2014 NUS researchers identify potent anti-obesity compounds
- Asian Scientist, 29 Oct 2014 Tackling the genetic culprits of obesity
- Health Management, 23 Oct 2014 Possible therapeutic solution to inhibit obesity gene
- TV Ciencia, 20 Oct 2014 (TV channel in Portugal) Scientists uncover inhibitors of obesity
- Science Newsline, 20 Oct 2014 NUS-led research team develops novel solutions to fight the obesity gene
- Medical Xpress, 20 Oct 2014 Researchers develop novel solutions to fight the obesity gene
- Science Codex, 20 Oct 2014 NUS-led research team develops novel solutions to fight the obesity gene
- Science Daily, 20 Oct 2014 Novel solutions developed to fight obesity gene
- Eureka Alert, 20 Oct 2014 NUS-led research team develops novel solutions to fight the obesity gene
- BioSpectrum Asia, 20 Oct 2014 Researchers develop novel solutions to fight the obesity gene
We are keen to hear from motivated graduate and undergraduate students. You can expect to be intellectually stimulated in this rapidly advancing field of epigenetics. You will benefit from learning a variety of research skills and techniques in a supportive lab environment. There will also be excellent opportunities to interact or work on short attachment with our collaborators from Oxford and Bath. Please contact me if you are interested.
Find out more about the numerous scholarships that are on offer to both Singapore and international students. Undergraduates are welcomed to join us for UROPS study or Final Year Project.
We seek the opportunities to work with scientists from different disciplines, both within and outside of NUS. We are always happy to discuss your research interest and to bring different ideas to your project. Please feel free to get in touch.