Mr Darren Conboy

Research project: Synthesis and Anti-Tumour Evaluation of Novel Heterocyclic Quinone Scaffolds


The holy grail of modern medicine is discovering an effective therapeutic with minimal side effects. This drug discovery PhD prepares and evaluates new heterocyclic (imino)quinone-based small molecules for the selective treatment of cancer. The research is divided into three projects:

Project 1: Incorporating the oxetane motif into heterocyclic (imino)quinone anti-tumour agents

The four-membered heterocycle, oxetane is seen as being capable of increased binding to the active site of the enzyme (NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1, NQO1) over-expressed in solid-tumours.

Project 2: Protein crystallography of (imino)quinone-NQO1 complex

Drug iminoquinone-enzyme active site (NQO1) interactions have been evidenced through computational docking, and we now propose to isolate this complex.

Project 3: New nitric oxide (NO)-releasing anti-tumour agents for photodynamic therapy

We wish to prepare and evaluate new molecules that release NO at room temperature using visible light. 


A native of County Sligo, Ireland, I obtained BSc(Hons, 1.1) in Biopharmaceutical Chemistry (BPC) at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) in 2016. After achieving overall first position in the BPC class, I was awarded a competitive College of Science PhD Scholarship at NUI Galway. My PhD is in the synthesis and evaluation of heterocyclic small molecule anti-cancer agents. In 2017, I accepted the offer to transfer my PhD to a fully-funded scholarship at Kingston University under the supervision of Prof Fawaz Aldabbagh. 

Areas of research interest

  • Organic synthesis
  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Heterocyclic small molecules


  • BSc(Hons) Biopharmaceutical Chemistry (NUI Galway): First Class

Funding or awards received

  • PhD Scholarship, Kingston University
  • Best Poster, RSC Organic Division Midlands Meeting, Loughborough University, 22 March 2018
  • University Scholar Award 2014/15, NUI Galway
  • 2016: NUI Galway School of Chemistry Gold Medal for Bioorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry module
  • 2015: NUI Galway School of Chemistry Gold Medal for Introduction to Research and Communication module