Dr Ivanhoe Leung

MChem, DPhil (Oxf)

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Senior Lecturer


Dr Ivanhoe Leung attained his undergraduate and doctorate degrees in Chemistry at the University of Oxford, as a member of St Peter’s College. His DPhil was completed in the laboratories of Profs Christopher J. Schofield FRS and Timothy D. W. Claridge, where he applied NMR spectroscopy to study oxygenase enzymes. After his DPhil he spent a further two years in the same groups as a postdoctoral research assistant. He has also spent time as a visitor in the laboratory of Dr Isabelle Landrieu at the Université Lille 1. Ivan joined the University of Auckland September 2014, where he is currently Senior Lecturer.

For more information about Ivan and his research team, please visit his research group website.

Research | Current

The research of the Leung Research Group lies broadly at the interface between chemistry and biology. We aim to utilise our knowledge in protein structure and enzyme mechanism to help solve some of the world’s most urgent challenges. Our research is multidisciplinary, drawing on the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, biophysical chemistry, enzymology, molecular biology and structural biology. We collaborate closely with a number of research groups from the Schools of Chemical and Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland, as well as colleagues in New Zealand and overseas.

Theme 1: Understanding disease mechanisms

Genetic disorders are associated with many serious and debilitating diseases. Our work aims to understand how genetic mutations may influence the structure and function of proteins and enzymes, establishing the relationship between molecular dysfunctions/dysregulations and the diseases that these mutations may cause.

● Drug Discov. Today 201924. 1295–1303.

Theme 2: Improving treatments and therapies

Infectious disease and antibiotic resistance are some of the biggest health challenges that the world are facing today. Our research tackles the underlying mechanisms that are important for the survival of bacteria, enabling new inhibition targets for the development of new antibiotic agents. 

● Med. Chem. Commun. 20178, 2155–2163.

Cancer is amongst the leading causes of death worldwide. We study molecular chaperones and DNA repair enzymes with an aim to develop new anti-cancer agents and chemosensitizers to overcome resistance and enhancing the effect of chemotherapy treatments.

● Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 201727, 277–281.
● Molecules 201823, 2468.

Theme 3: Improving agriculture to feed the world 

Despite soaring food cost and the growing world population, millions of tonnes of fresh produce are thrown out every year. We target plant enzymes with an aim to develop new chemical agents to regulate and control the ripening and browning processes of fruits and vegetables in order to reduce unnecessary waste of fresh produce.

● ChemistrySelect 20172, 10435–10441.

Theme 4: Improving methodologies in biochemical research

Protein-ligand interactions are fundamental to almost all biological processes in living organisms. Our laboratory specialises in the application of biophysical techniques, in particular NMR spectroscopy, to measure and quantify such interactions.

● Sci. Rep. 20177, 43727.

Teaching | Current

● CHEM 100   Molecules that Changed the World

● CHEM 260   Introduction to Green Chemistry

● CHEM 350   Topics in Chemistry (Course Coordinator)

● CHEM 360   Contemporary Green Chemistry

● CHEM 390   Medicinal Chemistry

● CHEM 738   Biomolecular Chemistry (Course Coordinator)

● CHEM 750   Advanced Topics in Chemistry

● PHARMACY 213   Pharmacy 1 (Guest Lecturer)

Postgraduate supervision

For more detailed information about potential research projects please contact Dr Leung by email. You will have the opportunity to conduct research at the interface between chemistry and biology, and to receive training in molecular biology, enzymology and biophysical chemistry.


● 2019   JSPS HOPE Fellow
● 2019   The University of Auckland Early Career Research Excellence Award



● Scientific Reports, Editorial Board Member


● The 12th Australian and New Zealand Society for Magnetic Resonance (ANZMAG) conference, Scientific Committee
● Green Chemistry New Zealand 2019, Organising Committee (Co-Chair)

Learned Society

● New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (NZIC) Auckland Branch, Chair
● The New Zealand Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (NZSBMB), Auckland Representative

The University of Auckland

● SCS Health and Safety Committee, Academic Coordinator
● Centre for Green Chemical Science, Co-Deputy Director
● School Executive Committee, Member

Areas of expertise

● Biological and organic NMR spectroscopy
● Protein-ligand interactions
● Inhibitor discovery
● Mechanistic enzymology
● Recombinant protein production and purification

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Li, Y., McLarin, M.-A., Middleditch, M. J., Morrow, S. J., Kilmartin, P. A., & Leung, I. K. H. (2019). An approach to recombinantly produce mature grape polyphenol oxidase. Biochimie, 165, 40-47. 10.1016/j.biochi.2019.07.002
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/48332
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Martin Middleditch, Paul Kilmartin
  • Correddu, D., Montaño López JDJ, Angermayr, S. A., Middleditch, M. J., Payne, L. S., & Leung, I. K. H. (2019). Effect of consecutive rare codons on the recombinant production of human proteins in Escherichia coli. IUBMB life10.1002/iub.2162
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Danilo Correddu, Martin Middleditch
  • Chepanova, A. A., Mozhaitsev, E. S., Munkuev, A. A., Suslov, E. V., Korchagina, D. V., Zakharova, O. D., ... Reynisson, J. (2019). The Development of Tyrosyl-DNA Phosphodiesterase 1 Inhibitors. Combination of Monoterpene and Adamantine Moieties via Amide or Thioamide Bridges. APPLIED SCIENCES-BASEL, 9 (13)10.3390/app9132767
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jinal Patel, Daniel Ayine-Tora
  • Correddu, D., Montaño López JDJ, Vadakkedath, P. G., Lai, A., Pernes, J. I., Watson, P. R., & Leung, I. K. H. (2019). An improved method for the heterologous production of soluble human ribosomal proteins in Escherichia coli. Scientific reports, 9 (1)10.1038/s41598-019-45323-8
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/47925
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Danilo Correddu, Praveen Vadakkedath
  • Correddu, D., & Leung, I. K. H. (2019). Targeting mRNA translation in Parkinson's disease. Drug discovery today, 24 (6), 1295-1303. 10.1016/j.drudis.2019.04.003
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Danilo Correddu
  • Mozhaitsev, E. S., Zakharenko, A. L., Suslov, E. V., Korchagina, D. V., Zakharova, O. D., Vasil'eva IA, ... Chand, R. (2019). Novel Inhibitors of DNA Repair Enzyme TDP1 Combining Monoterpenoid and Adamantane Fragments. Anti-cancer agents in medicinal chemistry, 19 (4), 463-472. 10.2174/1871520619666181207094243
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jinal Patel, Raina Chand
  • Zakharenko, A. L., Luzina, O. A., Sokolov, D. N., Kaledin, V. I., Nikolin, V. P., Popova, N. A., ... Zafar, A. (2019). Novel tyrosyl-DNA phosphodiesterase 1 inhibitors enhance the therapeutic impact of topoteсan on in vivo tumor models. European journal of medicinal chemistry, 161, 581-593. 10.1016/j.ejmech.2018.10.055
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/46102
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ayesha Zafar, Euphemia Leung, Jinal Patel
  • Huang, R., & Leung, K. (2019). Protein–Small Molecule Interactions by WaterLOGSY. In A. J. Wand (Ed.) Biological NMR Part B (pp. 477-500). Elsevier. 10.1016/bs.mie.2018.08.020
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/45315


Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 8, Room 819
New Zealand

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