Dr Benjamin Dickson

BSc(Hons) PhD Auck.


Dr Benjamin Dickson completed his BSc(Hons) in Medicinal Chemistry and PhD in Organic Chemistry at the University of Auckland. He took a position as a Research Fellow (Medicinal Chemistry) at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre in 2014. His current research explores synthesis of novel drugs and prodrugs that interact specifically with the tumour microenvironment. He is an Affiliate Investigator in the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery.

Research | Current

Dr Dickson participates actively in projects developing hypoxia activated prodrugs of DNA targeting agents and DNA damage response (DDR) inhibitors. He is interested in expanding this focus to include novel DDR inhibitors and chemical probes to explore the interplay of DDR elements. Beyond hypoxic-activation of prodrugs he is working on development of other methodologies that can be used in tandem with targeting motifs to make use of specific sub-celluar biochemical features for activation of cytotoxins. He has noted the propensity for drug development projects to generate large amounts of information and is interested in exploring collaborations to develop systems for organisation and recall of this data and ensure it is available for the future.

His current research interests are:

  • Development and exploration of DNA damage response inhibitors
  • Development of hypoxia-activated prodrugs
  • Development of chemical tools for exploration of untargeted DNA damage response elements
  • Development of novel prodrugs with targeted activation mechanisms
  • Exploration of continuous-flow chemistry in a medicinal chemistry environment
  • Development of tools to prevent information loss in large drug development projects

Teaching | Current

CHEM 750/751 - Flow Chemistry (Module coordinator and Lecturer)

MEDSCI 713  - Strategies for Improving Radiotherapy (Lecturer)

MEDSCI 716 - Chemical Optimisation in Drug Design (Lecturer)

Areas of expertise

Medicinal Chemistry

Organic Chemistry

Drug Design and Development

Hypoxia-activated Prodrugs


Committees/Professional groups/Services

University of Auckland:

  • Sub-professorial member - Staff Advisory Committee (2018-2021)
  • FMHS Postdoctoral Society Co-president (2020-)

Professional Groups:

  • Member of the Royal Australian Chemical Insitute

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Lee, T. W., Wong, W. W., Dickson, B. D., Lipert, B., Cheng, G. J., Hunter, F. W., ... Wilson, W. R. (2019). Radiosensitization of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma lines by DNA-PK inhibitors is more effective than PARP-1 inhibition and is enhanced by SLFN11 and hypoxia. International journal of radiation biology, 95 (12), 1597-1612. 10.1080/09553002.2019.1664787
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Francis Hunter, Michael Hay, Barbara Lipert, Way Wong
  • Wong, W. W., Jackson, R. K., Liew, L. P., Dickson, B. D., Cheng, G. J., Lipert, B., ... Hay, M. P. (2019). Hypoxia-selective radiosensitisation by SN38023, a bioreductive prodrug of DNA-dependent protein kinase inhibitor IC87361. Biochemical pharmacology, 16910.1016/j.bcp.2019.113641
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Barbara Lipert, Way Wong, Yongchuan Gu, Francis Hunter, Michael Hay, Lydia Liew
  • Lee, H. H., Dickson, B. D., Stevenson, R. J., Yang, S., & Tercel, M. (2019). Optimised synthesis of a nitroCBI hypoxia-activated prodrug with substantial anticancer activity. TETRAHEDRON, 75 (22), 3001-3007. 10.1016/j.tet.2019.04.027
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/48448
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ho Lee, Moana Tercel
  • Dickson, B. D., Wong, W. W., Wilson, W. R., & Hay, M. P. (2019). Studies Towards Hypoxia-Activated Prodrugs of PARP Inhibitors. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24 (8).10.3390/molecules24081559
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Way Wong, Michael Hay
  • Hong, C. R., Dickson, B. D., Jaiswal, J. K., Pruijn, F. B., Hunter, F. W., Hay, M. P., ... Wilson, W. R. (2018). Cellular pharmacology of evofosfamide (TH-302): A critical re-evaluation of its bystander effects. Biochemical Pharmacology, 156, 265-280. 10.1016/j.bcp.2018.08.027
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Michael Hay, Jagdish Jaiswal, Frederik Pruijn, Francis Hunter, Kevin Hicks, Cho Rong Hong
  • Dickson, B. D. (2017). Hypoxia activated prodrugs of PARP inhibitors. Paper presented at 15th International Tumor Microenvironment Workshop, Miami, Florida, USA. 27 April - 29 April 2017.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Michael Hay, Way Wong
  • Hong, C. R., Jaiswal, J., Dickson, B. D., Hunter, F. W., Hicks, K. O., & Wilson, W. R. (26/10/2016). Cellular pharmacology and bystander effects of the hypoxia activated prodrug evofosfamide (TH-302). Poster presented at New Zealand Society for Oncology Conference 2016, Palmerston North, New Zealand.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Cho Rong Hong, Jagdish Jaiswal, Francis Hunter, Frederik Pruijn, Kevin Hicks
  • Tran, H., Dickson, B. D., & Barker, D. (2013). Unexpected O-alkylation and ester migration in phenolic 2,3-diaryl-2,3-dihydrobenzo[b]furans. Tetrahedron Letters, 54 (16), 2093-2096. 10.1016/j.tetlet.2013.02.024
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: David Barker


Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 504 - Bldg 504
Level 1, Room 130
New Zealand

Web links