Khoa Chung - Synthetic Biology CDT

Contact details

E-mail: chau.chung (at)
Current address: Doctoral Training Centre, Rex Richards Building, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QU

Current activities

I am part of the Synthetic Biology 2018 cohort. I am currently taking lecture courses in foundation programming and Synthetic Biology.
Upon completion of the taught components in April, I will be joining two short rotation projects at Oxford.


2018-2023: PhD candidate in Synthetic Biology, University of Oxford

2014-2018: MChem Master of Chemistry with a year in industry, 1st class Honours, University of York.

Research Experience

Master's Thesis (Sept 2017 - Sept 2018): "A Chemoenzymatic Approach Towards Catharanthine and Tabersonine and Other Monoterpene Indole Alkaloids"
Industrial supervisors: Professors Sarah O'Connor and Anthony Maxwell, Department of Biological Chemistry, John Innes Centre, Norwich Biosciences Institute
Academic supervisors: Professors Andrew Parsons and Anthony Wilkinson, Department of Chemistry, University of York

As part of the year in Industry scheme, I undertook a one-year placement project investigating the biosynthesis of several compounds in the monoterpene
indole alkaloid (MIA) family, notably catharanthine and tabersonine, which at the time were bottleneck precursors to the potent anticancer drugs
vinblastine and vincristine. This culminated in the completion of their biosynthetic pathway.

Year 3 Research Project (2017)
In collaboration with Astrazeneca, this is a three-month lab group project investigating optimal conditions in the late-stage synthesis of the pharmaceutical
drug Omeprazole which acts as a proton-pump inhibitor. Culminated in a report and poster presentation.

Summer Project (Jun 2016 - Aug 2016): "A Sakurai Approach Towards the Novel Antibiotic Anthracimycin"
Supervisor: Dr. Paul Clarke, Department of Chemistry, University of York
Undertook a two-month RSC-funded research project investigating the synthesis of the decalin core of anthracimycin. Reactions employed include
the Diels-Alder, Shapiro, Saegusa-Ito, and Sakurai. Became efficient in inert atmosphere synthesis, chromatography, COSSH analysis.

Year 2 Research Project (2016)
Two-week project investigating the costs and hazards associated with the production of the large-scale production of Ibuprofen.

Year 1 Integrated Chemistry Project
Two-week group lab-based project investigating the nutritional contents (proteins, fats, caffeine, salt) of various foodstuffs.


Research: small-scale synthesis, parallel synthesis, NMR, MS, LC-MS, chromatography, PCR (elementary), DNA extraaction (elementary)
IT: Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint), NMR analysis software (ACD, Mestranova, TopSpin), Zotero, Python (elementary), Matlab (elementary
Languages: English (fluent), Vietnamese (native)


2018 - 2023: EPSRC-, BBSRC-, and CRUK-funded DPhil in Synthetic Biology CDT, University of Oxford
2017 - 2018: Industrial placement in the O'Connor and Maxwell labs, John Innes Centre
2016: RSC-funded placement in the Clarke lab,University of York
2014: Outstanding achievement in A-Level Chemistry,Bournemouth Collegiate School
2013 & 2014: Two silver medals in the National UK Maths Challenge,Bournemouth Collegiate School
2011 - 2014: Fully-funded scholarship,Bournemouth Collegiate School


L. Caputi, J. Franke, S. C. Farrow, K. Chung, R. M. E. Payne, T-D. Nguyen, T-T. T. Dang, I. S. T. Carqueijeiro, K. Koudounas, T. D. de Bernonville,
B. Ameyaw, D. M. Jones, I. J. C. Vieira, V. Courdavault, S. E. O'Connor, Missing enzymes in the biosynthesis of the anticancer drug vinblastine in
Madagascar Periwinkle. Science 360, 1235-1239 (2018). doi:10.1126/science.aat4100

I. Carqueijeiro, S. Brown, K. Chung, T-T. T. Dang, M. Walia, S. Besseau, T. D. de Bernonville, A. Oudin, A. Lanoue, K. Billet, T. Munsch, K. Koudounas,
C. Melin, C. Godon, B. Razafimandimby, J.-O. de Craene, G. Glévarec, J. Marc, N. Giglioli-Guivarc’h, M. Clastre, B. St-Pierre,
N. Papon, R. B. Andrade, S. E. O’Connor, V. Courdavault, Two Tabersonine 6,7-Epoxidases Initiate Lochnericine-Derived Alkaloid Biosynthesis in
Catharanthus roseus. Plant Phys.177, 1473-1486 (2018). doi:10.1104/pp.18.00549


  • Completed a 12-week short project in...
  • Completed a 12-week short project in...
  • DPhil research project the group of ...