Dr Kalesh Karunakaran


NTD Network Fellow


Chemical biology/chemical proteomics


Chemistry Department, Durham University


Durham, United Kingdom

Kalesh Karunakaran completed his MSc in Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras. He then pursued his PhD (received 2010) in Chemical Biology with Professor Yao Shao Qin at the National University of Singapore (NUS). His thesis focussed on the development of chemical tools, mainly using the activity-based protein profiling (ABPP) approach and rapid assembly of chemical compound libraries using the modular “click chemistry” approach, for the studies of protein kinases and protein phosphatases. Following his PhD, he joined in the R&D division of Albany Molecular Research Inc. (AMRI) Singapore as a senior research scientist and worked on the Medicinal chemistry and Structure-Activity-Relationship (SAR) studies of a number of inhibitor lead compounds in the company’s internal drug discovery programmes and gained experience in the integrated drug discovery process in the pharmaceutical industry. After a brief stint in the pharma industry, in 2012 he switched back to academic research with a Marie Curie individual fellowship from the European Research Agency and joined the research group of Professor Ed Tate in the Department of Chemistry of Imperial College London. Here he focussed on the development of chemical probes for the profiling of post-translational modifications arginine methylation and lysine succinylation and development of a competition-based ‘spike-in’ SILAC-quantitative chemical proteomics method for the target profiling of pharmacologically active natural products. In 2015, he joined the proteomics & mass-spectrometry group of Dr Peter DiMaggio in the Department of Chemical Engineering of Imperial College to work on a GSK-funded Engineered Medicines Laboratory project. Here he developed novel MS-chemical proteomics technologies for the study of intracellular ADP-ribosylation in cancer cells. In January 2019 he joined the Department of Chemistry of Durham University as an Assistant Professor (Research – GCRF NTD Research Fellow). His research interest is in developing and applying chemical biology and chemical proteomics methods for identifying and validating new drug targets for Leishmaniasis and Chagas disease.