Philipp Kukura

2018 United Kingdom Award Finalist — Faculty

Philipp Kukura

Current Position:
Professor of Chemistry

University of Oxford

Physical Chemistry

Recognized for: Pioneering efforts in ultrafast vibronic spectroscopy and ultrasensitive optical microscopy that are transforming our ability to detect, view and thereby study the properties and interactions of biological macromolecules.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Molecular biophysics, Microscopy, Spectroscopy, Structural dynamics of macromolecules


MChem, Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford
PhD, Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, UC Berkeley (Advisor: Prof. Richard A. Mathies)
Postdoc, ETH Zurich (Advisor, Prof. Vahid Sandoghdar)

Prof. Kukura develops and applies novel spectroscopic and microscopic imaging techniques with the aim of visualizing and thereby studying biomolecular structure and dynamics. Of particular importance are Prof. Kukura’s recent breakthroughs in scattering-based optical microscopy, where his group was first to demonstrate nanometre-precise tracking of small scattering labels with sub-ms temporal resolution, which enables highly accurate measurements and mechanistic insight into the structural dynamics of biomolecules such as molecular motors and DNA, and thereby their function and interactions. Secondly, his group was able to develop ultrasensitive label-free imaging and sensing in solution, down to the single molecule level, which has the potential to revolutionise our ability to study molecular interactions and self-assembly.

The Kukura group continues to challenge what we believe we can measure and quantify with light and use it to improve our understanding of biomolecular function. This technology has the potential to enable universally applicable and quantitative molecular science through the development of label-free single molecule imaging mass spectrometry in solution, to use mass imaging of single molecules to elucidate the molecular mechanisms behind nucleation, oligomeric assembly, and mesoscopic dynamics of biomolecules, and to expand research-only technologies towards drug discovery and diagnostics.

“What drives us is a fundamental desire to see things nobody has seen before. What makes it truly exciting, however, is finding out how we can use our capabilities to make a difference be it in basic research, drug discovery or diagnostics.”

Key Publications:

  1. J. Ortega Arroyo, J. Andrecka, K. M. Spillane, N. Billington, Y. Takagi, J. R. Sellers, P. Kukura. Label-free, All-optical Detection, Imaging, and Tracking of a Single Protein. Nano Lett, 2014.
  2. A. J. Musser, M. Liebel, C. Schnedermann, T. Wende, T. B. Kehoe, A. Rao, P. Kukura. Evidence for Conical Intersection Dynamics Mediating Ultrafast Singlet Exciton Fission. Nature Physics, 2015.
  3. J. Andrecka, J. Ortega Arroyo, Y. Takagi, G. de Wit, A. Fineberg, L. MacKinnon, G. Young, J. R. Sellers, P. Kukura. Structural Dynamics of Myosin 5 during Processive Motion Revealed by Interferometric Scattering Microscopy. eLife, 2015.
  4. G. Young, N. Hundt, D. Cole, A. Fineberg, J. Andrecka, A. Tyler, A. Olerinyova, A. Ansari, E.G. Marklund, M. P. Collier, S. P. Chandler, O. Tkachenko, J. Allen, M. Crispin, N. Billington, Y. Takagi, J. R. Sellers, C. Eichmann, P. Selenko, L. Frey, R. Riek, M. R. Galpin, W. B. Struwe, J. L. P. Benesch, P. Kukura, P. Quantitative mass imaging of single molecules in solution. bioRxiv, 2017.

Other Honors:

2017 EBSA Young Investigator Award and Medal
2017 Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award
2015 Royal Society of Chemistry Marlowe Award
2011 Royal Society of Chemistry Harrison-Meldola Award
2011 Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry
2010 EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowship

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