Dr Richard Grainger BSc, PhD

Dr Richard S Grainger

School of Chemistry
Senior Lecturer in Organic Chemistry

Contact details

School of Chemistry
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Richard Grainger is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemistry, where he carries out research in, and teaches, organic chemistry. His research is focused on the development of new synthetic methods and strategies, and their application in the synthesis of organic molecules of biological or structural interest, particularly natural products. He also has an ongoing interest in organosulfur chemistry.

Richard has published original research papers in leading chemistry journals, including the Journal of the American Chemical Society and Angewandte Chemie. He has received major grants from EPSRC, including the award of an Advanced Research Fellowship 2005-2010.


  • PhD in Organic Chemistry, University of Sheffield, 1996
  • BSc (Hons) Chemistry, University of Sheffield, 1992


Richard Grainger graduated with a BSc in Chemistry (1st class Hons) from the University of Sheffield, UK. He carried out his PhD research at the same institution under the supervision of Prof. Varinder Aggarwal, now at the University of Bristol. After two years postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago, working with Prof. Viresh Rawal, he returned to the UK to take up an independent academic position at the Department of Chemistry, King’s College London. In September 2005 he moved to the School of Chemistry, University of Birmingham, as a lecturer in Chemistry. From 2005-2010 he additionally held the position of EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow.

Richard has given over 70 presentations of his research at conferences, chemical companies and Universities across the globe. He has supervised and co-supervised 20 PhD students and 4 MPhil students through to graduation from his research group. He has acted as external examiner to more than 50 PhD and MPhil research theses in the UK and abroad.


Richard is currently teaching the following on the BSc and MSci chemistry degree courses:

  • Year 1 Practical Chemistry: NMR spectroscopy
  • Year 3 Core Organic Chemistry: Functional Group Transformations
  • Year 3 Special Chemistry Topic: Metals in Organic Synthesis
  • Year 4 Organic Chemistry: Total Synthesis of Natural Products

Postgraduate supervision

Richard is interested in supervising postgraduate students in the following areas:

  • Natural product synthesis
  • Free radical reactions
  • Organosulfur chemistry
  • Synthetic organic photochemistry and photocatalysis
  • Peri-interactions
  • Enzyme mimetics
  • Peptide mimetics
  • Medicinal chemistry

For a full list of available Doctoral Research opportunities, please visit our Doctoral Research programme listings.


Work in the Grainger group is centred on the development of new synthetic methods and strategies, and their application in the synthesis of organic molecules of biological or structural interest. Chemistry we are developing includes the use of reactive intermediates such as radicals and carbenes, photochemistry, cycloaddition reactions and organosulfur chemistry. We also have an active interest in the use of peri-substituted naphthalenes for the generation and stabilization of reactive functionalities.

We collaborate with University of Birmingham scientists both within the School of Chemistry (Dr Paul Davies on gold-catalysed transformations of organosulfur compounds, Dr Sarah Horswell for electrochemistry measurements, Professor Jim Tucker and Dr Francisco Fernandez-Trillo on nitroxyl generation) and at the Institute of Clinical Sciences in the Medical School (Dr Sam Butterworth, Professor Nicholas Barnes) on medicinal chemistry, funded through Celentyx. Internationally we have collaborated with Professor Steve Bottle (Queensland University of Technology) on nitroxide radicals.

Other activities

  • 2014-2019: RSC Heterocyclic and Synthesis Group Committee.
  • 2013-2018: Editorial Board Member, Journal of Sulfur Chemistry.
  • July 2009-July 2012: Member of RSC Organic Division Council.
  • 2011, 2012: J-NOST-7 and J-NOST-8 selection panel.
  • 2012: Organizing committee, RSC Organic Division Poster Symposium, 3 Dec 2012.
  • Organizer of RSC Organic Chemistry Midlands Meeting, University of Birmingham, 23 April 2009.
  • EPSRC Panel member, 2018, 2014, 2010.
  • Member of EPSRC College since 2006.
  • Member of Young Chemists’ Panel, Society of Chemical Industry, February 2002 – December 2005. Secretary April 2003 – December 2005.
  • Exhibitor at Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, Summer 2002.


Recent publications:

  • Rist, P. A., Grainger, R. S., Davies, P. W. (2021), Gold-Catalyzed Intermolecular Alkyne Oxyarylation for C3 Functionalization of Benzothiophenes, Org. Lett., 23: 642-646.

  • Barrett, M. J., Khan, G. F., Davies, P. W., Grainger, R. S. (2017), Alkynyl sulfoxides as a-sulfinyl carbene equivalents: Gold-catalysed oxidative cyclopropanation, Chem. Commun., 53: 5733-5736.

  • Pennell, M. N., Kyle, M. P., Gibson, S. M., Male, L., Turner, P. G., Grainger, R. S., Sheppard, T. D. (2016), Intercepting the Gold-Catalysed Meyer–Schuster Rearrangement by Controlled Protodemetallation: A Regioselective Hydration of Propargylic Alcohols, Adv. Synth. Catal., 358: 1519-1525.
  • Barrett, M. J., Davies, P. W., Grainger, R. S. (2015), Regioselective functionalisation of dibenzothiophenes through gold-catalysed intermolecular alkyne oxyarylation, Org. Biomol. Chem., 13: 8676-8686.
  • Grainger, R. S., Munro, K. R. (2015), Recent advances in alkylidene carbene chemistry, Tetrahedron, 71: 7795-7835.
  • Figliola, C., Louise Male, L., Horswell, S. L., Grainger, R. S. (2015), N-Derivatives of peri-Substituted Dichalcogenide [FeFe]-Hydrogenase Mimics: Towards Photocatalytic Dyads for Hydrogen Production, Eur. J. Inorg. Chem., 3146-3156.
  • Figliola, C., Male, L., Horton, P. N., Pitak, M. B., Coles, S. J., Horswell, S. L., Grainger, R. S. (2014), [FeFe]-Hydrogenase Synthetic Mimics Based on Peri-Substituted Dichalcogenides, Organometallics, 33: 4449-4460.
  • Betou, M., Male, L., Steed, J. W., Grainger, R. S. (2014), Carbamoyl radical-mediated synthesis and semipinacol rearrangement of b-lactam diols, Chem. Eur. J., 20: 6505-6517.

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