Dr Robert Elmes

Chemistry, Human Health Institute

Assistant Professor

Chemistry Department, Science Building
2nd Floor
(01) 708 4615


Rob graduated from the University of Dublin, Trinity College in 2007 having undertaken his final year project at the Institut des Biomolécules Max Mousseron, Université Montpellier I, France under the supervision of Prof. Thierry Durand. In 2007 he was awarded an IRCSET Embark Scholarship to undertake his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Thorri Gunnlaugsson at TCD where his research concerned the design, synthesis and evaluation of new metal complexes and nanomaterials as DNA probes and photoreagents. After a short postdoctoral tenure at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute in Dublin, Rob moved to The University of Sydney under the guidance of Prof. Kate Jolliffe. Here, he was involved in the development of new platforms for the recognition, sensing and transport of biologically relevant anions. In late 2014, Rob returned to Ireland taking up a lecturing position at Maynooth University where he is currently a Lecturer in Organic Chemistry within the Department of Chemistry. Rob’s research interests lie in the fields of Supramolecular Chemistry and Chemical Biology where the group is trying to develop areas in both health- and nano- science. Rob’s current research concerns designing biomimetic materials as drug delivery vehicles, diagnostic tools, antitumor therapeutics and environmental sensors. 

Research Interests

• Medicinal Chemistry

• Supramolecular and host:guest chemisty

• Peptidomimetics

• Chemical biology and Nano-Biotechnology

Post Doctoral Fellows / Research Team

Researcher Name Project Funding Body
Lokesh Kumawat Colorimetric and Luminescent Squaramide Based Anion Receptors

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2022 Kavanagh O.N.; Bhattacharya S.; Marchetti L.; Elmes R.; O’sullivan F.; Farragher J.P.; Robinson S.; Thompson D.; Walker G.M. (2022) 'Hydroxychloroquine Does Not Function as a Direct Zinc Ionophore'. Pharmaceutics, 14 (5). [DOI]
2022 Marchetti LA; Krämer T; Elmes RBP; (2022) 'Amidosquaramides - a new anion binding motif with pH sensitive anion transport properties'. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, . [DOI]
2022 Grundzi A.; Healy S.A.; Fenelon O.; Elmes R.B.P. (2022) 'Squaramide-naphthalimide conjugates – Exploiting self-aggregation effects in acetate recognition'. Results in Chemistry, 4 . [DOI]
2022 Abogunrin A.A.; Healy S.A.; Fenelon O.; Elmes R.B.P. (2022) 'Head vs. Tail Squaramide–Naphthalimide Conjugates: Self-Assembly and Anion Binding Behaviour'. Chemistry-Switzerland, 4 (4):1288-1299. [DOI]
2021 Calatrava-Pérez E.; Marchetti L.A.; McManus G.J.; Lynch D.M.; Elmes R.B.P.; Williams D.C.; Gunnlaugsson T.; Scanlan E.M. (2021) 'Real-Time Multi-Photon Tracking and Bioimaging of Glycosylated Theranostic Prodrugs upon Specific Enzyme Triggered Release'. Chemistry - A European Journal, . [DOI]
2021 Kumawat L.K.; Wynne C.; Cappello E.; Fisher P.; Brennan L.E.; Strofaldi A.; McManus J.J.; Hawes C.S.; Jolliffe K.A.; Gunnlaugsson T.; Elmes R.B.P. (2021) 'Squaramide-Based Self-Associating Amphiphiles for Anion Recognition'. ChemPlusChem, 86 (8):1058-1068. [DOI]
2021 Kavanagh O.; Elmes R.; O’sullivan F.; Farragher J.; Robinson S.; Walker G. (2021) 'Investigating structural property relationships to enable repurposing of pharmaceuticals as zinc ionophores'. Pharmaceutics, 13 (12). [DOI]
2021 Tian, X; Kumawat, LK; Bull, SD; Elmes, RBP; Wu, LL; James, TD (2021) 'Coumarin-based fluorescent probe for the detection of glutathione and nitroreductase'. Tetrahedron, 82 . [DOI]
2021 Geraghty, C; Wynne, C; Elmes, RBP (2021) '1,8-Naphthalimide based fluorescent sensors for enzymes'. Coordination Chemistry Reviews, 437 . [DOI]
2020 Ramos J; Arufe S; Martin H; Rooney D; Elmes RBP; Erxleben A; Moreira R; Velasco-Torrijos T; (2020) 'Glycosyl squaramides, a new class of supramolecular gelators'. Soft Matter, . [DOI]
2020 Elmes R.B.P.; Ryan G.J.; Erby M.L.; Frimannsson D.O.; Kitchen J.A.; Lawler M.; Williams D.C.; Quinn S.J.; Gunnlaugsson T. (2020) 'Synthesis, Characterization, and Biological Profiling of Ruthenium(II)-Based 4-Nitro- And 4-Amino-1,8-naphthalimide Conjugates'. Inorganic Chemistry, . [DOI]
2019 Wu D.; Daly H.; Grossi M.; Conroy E.; Li B.; Gallagher W.; Elmes R.; O'Shea D. (2019) 'RGD conjugated cell uptake off to on responsive NIR-AZA fluorophores: Applications toward intraoperative fluorescence guided surgery'. Chemical Science, 10 (29):6944-6956. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2019 Wu L.; Gardiner J.; Kumawat L.; Han H.; Guo R.; Li X.; He X.; Elmes R.; Sedgwick A.; Bull S.; James T. (2019) 'Coumarin-based fluorescent 'AND' logic gate probes for the detection of homocysteine and a chosen biological analyte'. RSC Advances, 9 (45):26425-26428. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2019 Marchetti L.; Kumawat L.; Mao N.; Stephens J.; Elmes R. (2019) 'The Versatility of Squaramides: From Supramolecular Chemistry to Chemical Biology'. Chem, 5 (6):1398-1485. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2019 Qin L; Wright JR; Lane JDE; Berry SN; Elmes RBP; Jolliffe KA; (2019) 'Receptors for sulfate that function across a wide pH range in mixed aqueous-DMSO media'. Chemical Communications, . [DOI]
2019 Kumawat, Lokesh K. and Abogunrin, Anthony A. and Kickham, Michelle and Pardeshi, Jyotsna and Fenelon, Orla and Schroeder, Martina and Elmes, Robert B. P. (2019) 'Squaramide—Naphthalimide Conjugates as “Turn-On” Fluorescent Sensors for Bromide Through an Aggregation-Disaggregation Approach'. 7 . [Link] [DOI] [Full-Text]
2019 Qin L.; Vervuurt S.; Elmes R.; Berry S.; Proschogo N.; Jolliffe K. (2019) 'Extraction and transport of sulfate using macrocyclic squaramide receptors'. Chemical Science, 11 (1):201-207. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2018 Xiao T.; Zhou L.; Xu L.; Zhong W.; Zhao W.; Sun X.; Elmes R. (2018) 'Dynamic materials fabricated from water soluble pillar[n]arenes bearing triethylene oxide groups'. Chinese Chemical Letters, . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2018 Xiao T.; Zhong W.; Zhou L.; Xu L.; Sun X.; Elmes R.; Hu X.; Wang L. (2018) 'Artificial light-harvesting systems fabricated by supramolecular host–guest interactions'. Chinese Chemical Letters, . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2018 Marchetti L.; Mao N.; Krämer T.; Kitchen J.; Elmes R. (2018) 'A long wavelength colourimetric chemosensor for fluoride'. Supramolecular Chemistry, :1-11. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2018 Sedgwick, Adam C. and Hayden, Alex and Hill, Barry and Bull, Steven D. and Elmes, Robert B. P. and James, Tony D. (2018) 'A simple umbelliferone based fluorescent probe for the detection of nitroreductase'. . [Link] [DOI] [Full-Text]
2018 Odyniec M.; Sedgwick A.; Swan A.; Weber M.; Tang T.; Gardiner J.; Zhang M.; Jiang Y.; Kociok-Kohn G.; Elmes R.; Bull S.; He X.; James T. (2018) ''AND'-based fluorescence scaffold for the detection of ROS/RNS and a second analyte'. Chemical Communications, 54 (61):8466-8469. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2017 Ao, X; Bright, SA; Taylor, NC; Elmes, RBP (2017) '2-Nitroimidazole based fluorescent probes for nitroreductase; monitoring reductive stress in cellulo'. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, 15 :6104-6108. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2017 Liu, X.,Elmes, R.B.P.,Jolliffe, K.A. (2017) 'Synthesis of Side-Chain Modified Peptides Using Iterative Solid Phase 'Click' Methodology'. 70 (2):201-207. [Link]
2016 Elmes R. (2016) 'Bioreductive fluorescent imaging agents: Applications to tumour hypoxia'. Chemical Communications, 52 (58):8935-8956. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2016 Qin L.; Hartley A.; Turner P.; Elmes R.; Jolliffe K. (2016) 'Macrocyclic squaramides: Anion receptors with high sulfate binding affinity and selectivity in aqueous media'. Chemical Science, 7 (7):4563-4572. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2016 Martiez-Calvo, M; Orange, KN; Elmes, RBP; Poulsen, BL; Williams, DC; Gunnlaugsson, T (2016) 'Ru(II)-polypyridyl surface functionalised gold nanoparticles as DNA targeting supramolecular structures and luminescent cellular imaging agents'. Nanoscale, 8 :563-574. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2016 Payne D.; Fossey J.; Elmes R. (2016) 'Catalysis and Sensing for our Environment (CASE2015) and the Supramolecular Chemistry Ireland Meeting (SCI 2015): Dublin and Maynooth, Ireland. 8th - 11th July'. Supramolecular Chemistry, :1-11. [DOI]
2015 Ryan G.; Poynton F.; Elmes R.; Erby M.; Williams D.; Quinn S.; Gunnlaugsson T. (2015) 'Unexpected DNA binding properties with correlated downstream biological applications in mono vs. bis-1,8-naphthalimide Ru(II)-polypyridyl conjugates'. Dalton Transactions, 44 (37):16332-16344. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2015 Elmes R.; Busschaert N.; Czech D.; Gale P.; Jolliffe K. (2015) 'pH switchable anion transport by an oxothiosquaramide'. Chemical Communications, 51 (50):10107-10110. [DOI]
2015 Elmes R.; Jolliffe K. (2015) 'Anion recognition by cyclic peptides'. Chemical Communications, 51 (24):4951-4968. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2015 Elmes, Robert B. P. and Jolliffe Katrina A. (2015) 'Amino acid-based squaramides for anion recognition'. Supramolecular Chemistry, 27 . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2015 Cloonan, S.M., Elmes, R.B.P., Erby, M., Bright, S.A., Poynton, F.E., Nolan, D.E., Quinn, S.J., Gunnlaugsson, T., Williams, D.C. (2015) 'Detailed Biological Profiling of a Photoactivated and Apoptosis Inducing pdppz Ruthenium(II) Polypyridyl Complex in Cancer Cells'. Medicinal Chemistry, 58 :4494-4505. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2014 Elmes, R. B. P., Yuen, K. K. Y., Jolliffe, K. A. (2014) 'Sulfate-Selective Recognition by Using Neutral Dipeptide Anion Receptors in Aqueous Solution'. Chemistry - A European Journal, 20 :7373-7380. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2014 Nathalie Busschaert, Robert B. P. Elmes, Dawid D. Czech, Xin Wu, Isabelle L. Kirby, Evan M. Peck, Kevin D. Hendzel, Scott K. Shaw, Bun Chan, Bradley D. Smith, Katrina A. Jolliffe and Philip A. Gale (2014) 'Thiosquaramides: pH switchable anion transporters'. Chemical Science, 5 :3617-3626. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2013 Elmes, R. B. P., Turner, P., Jolliffe, K. A. (2013) 'Colorimetric and Luminescent Sensors for Chloride: Hydrogen Bonding vs Deprotonation'. Organic Letters, 15 :5638-5641. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2012 Elmes, R. B. P., Erby, M., Bright, S. A., Williams, D. C., Gunnlaugsson, T. (2012) 'Photophysical and biological investigation of novel luminescent Ru(II)-polypyridyl-1,8-naphthalimide Trger's bases as cellular imaging agents'. Chemical Communications, 48 :2588-2590. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2012 Ryan, G. J., Elmes, R. B. P., Quinn, S. J., Gunnlaugsson, T. (2012) 'Synthesis and photophysical evaluations of fluorescent quaternary bipyridyl-1,8-naphthalimide conjugates as nucleic acid targeting agents'. Supramolecular Chemistry, 24 :175-188. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2012 Elmes, R. B. P., Kitchen, J. A., Williams, D. C., Gunnlaugsson, T. (2012) 'Pushing the limit: synthesis, photophysical and DNA binding studies of a NIR-emitting Ru(II)-polypyridyl probe with light switch behaviour'. Dalton Transactions, 41 :6607-6610. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2011 Elmes, R. B. P., Orange, K. N., Cloonan, S. M., Williams, D. C., Gunnlaugsson, T. (2011) 'Luminescent Ruthenium(II) Polypyridyl Functionalized Gold Nanoparticles; Their DNA Binding Abilities and Application As Cellular Imaging Agents'. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 133 :15862-15865. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2011 Elmes, R. B. P., Erby, M., Cloonan, S. M., Quinn, S. J., Williams, D. C., Gunnlaugsson, T. (2011) 'Quaternarized pdppz: synthesis, DNA-binding and biological studies of a novel dppz derivative that causes cellular death upon light irradiation(Link)'. Chemical Communications, 47 :686-688. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2010 Elmes, R. B. P., Gunnlaugsson, T. (2010) 'Luminescence anion sensing via modulation of MLCT emission from a naphthalimide-Ru(II)-polypyridyl complex'. Tetrahedron Letters, 51 :4082-4087. [DOI] [Full-Text]
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2023) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.

Professional Associations

Description Function From / To
Royal Society of Chemistry Local Section Treasurer 01/01/2015 -
Institute of Chemistry of Ireland Council member 01/12/2014 -

Honors and Awards

Date Title Awarding Body
01/01/2021 Teaching Hero Award National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in collaboration with the Union of Students in Ireland
01/10/2021 Visiting Researcher at Scripps Research Scripps Research, La Jolla. California
01/05/2020 Czarnik Emerging Investigator Award for Molecular Sensors Molecular Sensors and Molecular Logics Gates (MSMLG)


Committee Function From / To
Frontiers in Supramolecular Chemistry Associate Editor -
Institute of Chemistry Of Ireland Council Committee Member -
Royal Society of Chemistry Republic of Ireland Local Section Committee Treasurer -


Employer Position From / To
University of Sydney Postdoctoral Research Associate 01/01/2012 - 31/08/2014
Trinity College Dublin Postdoctoral Research Associate 01/04/2011 - 31/12/2011
Maynooth University Lecturer 01/09/2014 - 09/03/2020


Start date Institution Qualification Subject
Medicinal Chemistry B. A. Mod.
Medicinal and Supramolecular Chemistry PhD