The Peacock group is interested in the de novo (from “first-principles”) design of functional metallopeptides. Specifically, the group focuses on the use of designed artificial miniature protein folds as novel ligands for metal ions. These miniature protein scaffolds offer unprecedented opportunities to exploit the advantages afforded by biomolecules, yet with the simplicity more commonly encountered in small molecule inorganic chemistry complexes.
Importantly the group is focused on the use of these as ligands for metal ions with no known biological role, but with attractive chemistries, so as to develop biology-chemistry hybrids with new functions for new applications. To date the group has extensively explored the coordination of lanthanides to coiled coils.
We are able to effectively tune the lanthanide coordination chemistry and resulting physical properties using peptide design, which has included exploring their potential for use as MRI contrast agents.