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Dr Akram Khan BSc, MSc, PhD

Senior Lecturer


After completing my BSc in chemistry, MSc by research in electro-organic synthesis and PhD in organic synthesis at the University of Sheffield I joined the University of Kuwait as an assistant lecturer in chemistry. After that I got appointed to my present position as senior lecturer in organic chemistry at Sheffield Hallam University (Sheffield Polytechnic). My research interests are in synthesis of novel drugs for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, malaria and bacterial conditions.


After my teaching experience at Kuwait University I was appointed to my present position as a senior lecturer in organic chemistry at Sheffield Hallam University. I have been a member of Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC) and International Union of Pure and Applied Chemists (IUPAC). I have served as a member on the editorial board of the open access electronic journal called Molecules and act as a referee for the Elsevier publication European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. Although my formal training has been in synthetic organo-sulphur chemistry, I have developed other fields for my research such as synthesis of curcuminoids, quinoline derived compounds, carbohydrate chemistry and indazole chemistry. All my publications are in well-known peer reviewed chemistry journals and nowadays tend to publish in open access journals.

During my extended teaching career at SHU I have taught on all of the organic chemistry modules ranging from first year to final year and have designed numerous learning activities for these undergraduate courses as well as for a postgraduate MSc in pharmaceutical analysis. I have been course leader for the pharmaceutical science degree and module leader on all Levels 4-6 modules in organic chemistry. I have produced new module documents for Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry, Biological Chemistry and Advanced Organic Synthesis & Spectroscopy. I have written numerous module handbooks, numerous lecture note booklets, spectroscopic booklets and problem solving booklets for the students. I give public lectures during British Science Week on "The Hands of Nature" to schools and sixth form colleges every year.

Specialist areas of interest

Organo-sulphur chemistry, synthesis of quinoline derivatives and curcuminoids for the treatment of malaria, cancer, inflammation, and bacteria.


Organic Chemistry

MSc Biosciences Programme and BSc Biosciences Programme


The synthesis of novel quinoline compounds with potential anti-malarial activity.
Malaria parasites are transmitted to humans by the bite of infected female mosquitoes of more than 30 anopheline species. Globally, an estimated 3.3 billion people were at risk of malaria in 2011, with populations living in sub-Saharan Africa having the highest risk of acquiring malaria: approximately 80% of cases and 90% of deaths are estimated to occur in the WHO African Region, with children under five years of age and pregnant women most severely affected (WHO, 2012). New antimalarial compounds are desperately needed to treat malaria. Carbocyclic derivatives of quinine can be made in the laboratory and these may offer better activity as antimalarials. The synthesis of these compounds involves making various substituted quinoline-4-carboxaldehydes and then reacting them with acrylates in Baylis-Hillman reaction and then reacting these products with dienes using the Diels-Alder reaction to produce the products as potential anti-malarials.

Synthesis of mustard containing curcumins as potential anticancer agents
Curcumin is a yellow, naturally occurring polyphenolic compound, which has been traditionally used in medicine for the treatment of different health problems, such as asthma, allergies, acne, diabetic wounds and ulcers. It also has a potential cancer chemopreventive and antiproliferative activity against almost all types of cancers by inhibiting all three steps of the tumorigenesis process. The aim of this project is to synthesise a novel nitrogen mustard curcumin by a multistep synthesis. The synthesised curcumins will be purified by flash column chromatography and analysed by TLC and characterised spectroscopically by IR,1H NMR and 13C NMR spectroscopies and ELS-MS spectrometry.

The Antioxidant activity of some curcuminoids and chalcones

Chemistry, biochemistry and selective cytotoxicity of curcumin analogues against human cancer cell lines

Professor Münevver Sökmen, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Karadeniz Technical University, 61080 Trabzon, Turkey

Professor M. Afzal, Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, Kuwait University, Kuwait


Khan, A., Miller, K., Rainsford, K., & Zhou, Y. (2013). Synthesis and Antimicrobial Activity of Novel Substituted Ethyl 2-(Quinolin-4-yl)-propanoates. Molecules, 18 (3), 3227-3240.

Khan, A., Ahmed, M., & Rainsford, K. (2013). Synthesis of Thiophene and NO-Curcuminoids for Antiinflammatory and Anti-Cancer Activities. Molecules, 18 (2), 1483-1501.

Afzal, A., Oriqat, G., Khan, A., Jose, J., & Afzal, M. (2013). Chemistry and biochemistry of Terpenoids from Curcumaand related species. Journal of Biologically Active Products from Nature, 3 (1), 1-55.

Khan, A.K., El-Khatib, R., Rainsford, K.D., & Whitehouse, M.W. (2012). Synthesis and anti-inflammatory properties of some aromatic and heterocyclic aromatic curcuminoids. Bioorganic Chemistry, 40, 30-38.

Khan, M.A., & Adams, H. (1999). The formation of lactams from L-ascorbic acid. Carbohydrate Research, 322 (3-4), 279-283.

Khan, M.A., & Adams, H. (1999). Simple stereoselective synthesis of (1E,3Z)-4-(substituted)amino 1,3- diethoxycarbonyl-1,3-butadienes. Tetrahedron Letters, 40 (29), 5389-5390.

Khan, M.A. (1999). Chemical composition and medicinal properties of Nigella sativa Linn. Inflammopharmacology, 7 (1), 15-35.

Khan, M.A., Boyes, S.A., & Adams, H. (1996). Synthesis of some substituted oxaspiro[4,5]decanenones by way of intermolecular diels-alder reaction of alkylidene 2,3-dimethoxybutenolides obtained from L-ascorbic acid. Molecules, 1 (2), 27-36.


Khan, A. (1991). The Claisen rearrangement of 2-phenylsulfinyl-2-propenyl phenyl ethers –A new route to functionalized phenols and 2-methylbenzofurans. Bulletin of the chemical society of Japan, 64 (12), 3682-3686.

Book chapters

Abaza, M.S., Khan, A., & Afzal, M. (2012). Chemistry, biochemistry and selective cytotoxicity of curcumin analogues against human cancer cell lines. In Sasaki, J., & Kichida, M. (Eds.) Curcumin: Biosynthesis, medicinal uses and health benefits. (pp. 105-132). Nova science publishers:

Theses / Dissertations

Moin, M. (2009). Synthesis of curcuminoids as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Khan, A., & Woodroofe, N.

Postgraduate supervision

2005 - Synthesis of novel indazole alkaloids with potential medicinal properties

2009 - Synthesis of curcuminoids as anti-inflammatory drugs

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