Personal profile

Research interests

I am interested in the chemical modification of proteins and developing methods to characterise such modifications. Protein modification can have significant effect on protein function and consequently biochemical outcome. Attempts to characterise the site of modification can be challenging due in part to the complexity of the sample. Protein modification can result from either enzymatic post-translational modification (phosphorylation, ubiquitination, methylation, etc.) or non-enzymatic chemical modification with reactive metabolites (Michael additions, oxidation, reactive drug metabolite adducts).

My interests have recently focused on non-enzymatic chemical modifications of proteins by reactive metabolites, for example catecholamines and catechol oestrogen metabolites and their implications in diseases, such as neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes and cancer. Current strategies are to develop methods to capture/enrich these modifications from biological sources, such as cell media, for analysis by mass spectrometry, to verify and optimise the methods using in vitro samples and to use these methods for global screening of biological samples such as tissue, blood and urine. The hope is that these protein modifications can serve as prognostic markers of disease which in turn can be translated to a clinical biochemistry setting. Other interests include protein modification/immobilisation to create novel biomaterials and biocatalysts and the recent discovery of amelogenin peptides from tooth enamel to enable sexing of archaeological samples using nanoLC-MS.

Scholarly biography

Nicolas received his PhD in Chemistry in 2004 from the University of Ottawa under the supervision of Dr Harvey Kaplan. He investigated chemical modifications of lyophilised proteins and peptides which afforded Nicolas an opportunity to learn Mass spectrometry. He started a post-doctoral fellowship at the Ottawa Health Research Institute in the Regional Protein Chemistry Institute in Dr Ajoy Basak’s laboratory and in the regional protein chemistry Under the direction of Dr Michel Chretien. During his post doc, Nicolas used solid phase peptide synthesis to synthesize substrates for the investigation of pro protein convertases using mass spectrometry.  He then moved to the USA for a 2 year post doctoral fellowship at the National Chemistry Institute in Frederick Maryland (SAIC Frederick) proteomics laboratory. Nicolas used and established work-flows of mass spectrometry proteomics.  In 2007, Nicolas continued his research in the field of mass spectrometry expanding his expertise to metabolomics as a Research Instructor in the Centre for Clinical Pharmacology in Department of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2013, he moved to the UK as a Senior Lecturer in Chemistry in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Brighton. Nicolas is currently funded by the Leverhulme Trust on a project using mass spectrometry for the identification of sex in tooth enamel.

Approach to teaching

I currently teach many aspects of analytical chemistry including chromatography, mass spectrometry and NMR. I try to encourage students to learn by understanding the key concepts rather than memorising and regurgitating material.

Supervisory Interests

Research areas where project applications are welcomed include: 1) Applying nanoLC-MS/MS for the identification of novel post-translational modification of proteins, 2) Developing on-line methods for the enrichment of modified peptides in proteomics.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Ottawa


  • QD Chemistry
  • protein chemistry
  • mass spectrometry
  • proteomics


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