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Dr Lorna Dougan

Molecular and Nanoscale Physics Group

Contact details

Room: 8.32
Tel: +44 (0)113 3438958
Email: l.dougan @


Water and aqueous solutions
Biomolecular self-assembly
Protein folding
Single molecule force spectroscopy
Neutron diffraction
Synthetic biology

Research interests

Our group is interested in using novel biophysical approaches to explore the structure and dynamics of molecules in aqueous solutions. The major theme of our multidisciplinary program involves the development of single molecule manipulation techniques as well as structural studies using neutron diffraction and computational modelling. These powerful techniques are used as tools to study biomolecular self-assembly in both simple and complex systems.

Our current areas of interest include:

- The development of instrumentation for the mechanical manipulation of single molecules

- Understanding the action of cryoprotectant molecules

- Hydrogen bonding, percolation and micro-segregation in aqueous solutions

- Protein folding, stability and dynamics under extreme environmental conditions

- The development of enabling tools and technology for synthetic biology

- The design and characterisation of artificial biological levers for molecular motors

- The self-assembly and aggregation of disease relevant peptides and proteins

You can read more about our research on the Dougan Group web site!

Useful links

Dougan Group web pages
Astbury Centre for Structural and Molecular Biology
Institute of Physics Liquids and Complex Fluids Group
Institute of Physics Yorkshire Branch


Alves da Silva M, Lenton S, Hughes M, Brockwell DJ, Dougan L Assessing the potential of folded globular polyproteins as hydrogel building blocks Biomacromolecules 18 636-646, 2017
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Tych KM, Batchelor M, Hoffmann T, Wilson MC, Hughes ML, Paci E, Brockwell DJ, Dougan L Differential effects of hydrophobic core packing residues for thermodynamic and mechanical stability of a hyperthermophilic protein. Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids 32 7392-7402, 2016
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Lenton S, Walsh DL, Rhys NH, Soper AK, Dougan L Structural evidence for solvent-stabilisation by aspartic acid as a mechanism for halophilic protein stability in high salt concentrations. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 18 18054-18062, 2016
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Hughes ML, Dougan L The physics of pulling polyproteins: a review of single molecule force spectroscopy using the AFM to study protein unfolding. Reports on Progress in Physics 79 -, 2016
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Towey JJ, Soper AK, Dougan L Low-Density Water Structure Observed in a Nanosegregated Cryoprotectant Solution at Low Temperatures from 285 to 238 K Journal of Physical Chemistry B 120 4439-4448, 2016
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Tych KM, Batchelor M, Hoffmann T, Wilson MC, Paci E, Brockwell DJ, Dougan L Tuning protein mechanics through an ionic cluster graft from an extremophilic protein. Soft Matter 12 2688-2699, 2016
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Rhys NH, Soper AK, Dougan L Hydrophilic Association in a Dilute Glutamine Solution Persists Independent of Increasing Temperature Journal of Physical Chemistry B 119 15644-15651, 2015
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Dougan L Surviving at the extremes Physics World 28 30-34, 2015

Hoffmann T, Tych KM, Crosskey T, Schiffrin B, Brockwell DJ, Dougan L Rapid and Robust Polyprotein Production Facilitates Single-Molecule Mechanical Characterization ofβ-Barrel Assembly Machinery Polypeptide Transport Associated Domains. ACS Nano 9 8811-8821, 2015
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Tych KM, Hoffmann T, Batchelor M, Hughes ML, Kendrick KE, Walsh DL, Wilson M, Brockwell DJ, Dougan L Life in extreme environments: Single molecule force spectroscopy as a tool to explore proteins from extremophilic organisms Biochemical Society Transactions 43 179-185, 2015
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Batchelor M, Wolny M, Dougan L, Paci E, Knight PJ, Peckham M Myosin tails and singleα-helical domains Biochemical Society Transactions 43 58-63, 2015
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Dougan L Using Single Molecule Force Spectroscopy to Probe Proteins from Extremophiles, 2015

Tych KM, Hughes ML, Bourke J, Taniguchi Y, Kawakami M, Brockwell DJ, Dougan L Optimizing the calculation of energy landscape parameters from single-molecule protein unfolding experiments Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics 91 -, 2015
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Wolny M, Batchelor M, Knight PJ, Paci E, Dougan L, Peckham M Stable singleα-helices are constant force springs in proteins. J Biol Chem 289 27825-27835, 2014
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Wolny M, Batchelor M, Parker F, Baboolal T, Mashanov G, Molloy J, Paci E, Dougan L, Knight PJ, Peckham M Unravelling the Properties of Single alpha-Helical Domains in Myosin and other Proteins, 2014

Towey JJ, Soper AK, Dougan L What happens to the structure of water in cryoprotectant solutions? Faraday Discussions 167 159-176, 2013
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Hoffmann T, Tych KM, Hughes ML, Brockwell DJ, Dougan L Towards design principles for determining the mechanical stability of proteins. Phys Chem Chem Phys 15 15767-15780, 2013
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Tych K, Dougan L A Single-Molecule Approach to Explore the Role of the Solvent Environment in Protein Folding In Proteins in Solution and at Interfaces: Methods and Applications in Biotechnology and Materials Science , 2013
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Rhys NH, Dougan L The emerging role of hydrogen bond interactions in polyglutamine structure, stability and association Soft Matter 9 2359-2364, 2013
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Hoffmann T, Tych KM, Brockwell DJ, Dougan L Single Molecule Force Spectroscopy Identifies a Small Cold Shock Protein as Being Mechanically Robust The Journal of Physical Chemistry B 117 1819-1826, 2013
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Tych KM, Hoffmann T, Brockwell DJ, Dougan L Single molecule force spectroscopy reveals the temperature-dependent robustness and malleability of a hyperthermophilic protein Soft Matter 9 9016-9025, 2013
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Towey JJ, Soper AK, Dougan L Molecular insight into the hydrogen bonding and micro-segregation of a cryoprotectant molecule. J Phys Chem B 116 13898-13904, 2012
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Rhys NH, Soper AK, Dougan L The hydrogen-bonding ability of the amino acid glutamine revealed by neutron diffraction experiments. J Phys Chem B 116 13308-13319, 2012
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Hoffmann T, Tych K, Brockwell DJ, Dougan L A small cold shock protein as a model for force spectroscopy studies of extremophilic proteins, 2012

Hoffmann T, Dougan L Single molecule force spectroscopy using polyproteins Chemical Society Reviews 41 4781-4796, 2012
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Towey JJ, Dougan L Structural examination of the impact of glycerol on water structure Journal of Physical Chemistry B 116 1633-1641, 2012
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Towey JJ, Soper AK, Dougan L Preference for isolated water molecules in a concentrated glycerol-water mixture Journal of Physical Chemistry B 115 7799-7807, 2011
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Dougan L, Crain J, Finney JL, Soper AK Molecular self-assembly in a model amphiphile system. Phys Chem Chem Phys 12 10221-10229, 2010
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Fernandez JM, Garcia-Manyes S, Dougan L Force-Clamp Spectroscopy of Single Proteins Single Molecule Spectroscopy in Chemistry, Physics and Biology 96 317-335 572-, 2010
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Dougan L Self-Assembly in a Model Amphiphile System BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL 98 43A-43A, 2010

Dougan L, Li J, Badilla CL, Berne BJ, Fernandez JM Single homopolypeptide chains collapse into mechanically rigid conformations. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106 12605-12610, 2009
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Garcia-Manyes S, Dougan L, Badilla CL, Brujic J, Fernandez JM Direct observation of an ensemble of stable collapsed states in the mechanical folding of ubiquitin P NATL ACAD SCI USA 106 10534-10539, 2009

Garcia-Manyes S, Dougan L, Fernandez JM Osmolyte-induced separation of the mechanical folding phases of ubiquitin P NATL ACAD SCI USA 106 10540-10545, 2009

Dougan L, Brujic J, Fernandez JM Force-clamp Spectroscopy of Single Proteins, 2009

Dougan L, Koti ASR, Genchev G, Lu H, Fernandez JM A Single-Molecule Perspective on the Role of Solvent Hydrogen Bonds in Protein Folding and Chemical Reactions CHEMPHYSCHEM 9 2836-2847, 2008

Ainavarapu SRK, Wiita AP, Dougan L, Uggerud E, Fernandez JM Single-molecule force spectroscopy measurements of bond elongation during a bimolecular reaction J AM CHEM SOC 130 6479-6487, 2008

Dougan L, Fernandez JM Tandem repeating modular proteins avoid aggregation in single molecule force spectroscopy experiments J PHYS CHEM A 111 12402-12408, 2007

Walther KA, Grater F, Dougan L, Badilla CL, Berne BJ, Fernandez JM Signatures of hydrophobic collapse in extended proteins captured with force spectroscopy P NATL ACAD SCI USA 104 7916-7921, 2007

Soper AK, Dougan L, Crain J, Finney JL Excess entropy in alcohol-water solutions: A simple clustering explanation J PHYS CHEM B 110 3472-3476, 2006

Dougan L, Hargreaves R, Bates SP, Finney JL, Reat V, Soper AK, Crain J Segregation in aqueous methanol enhanced by cooling and compression J CHEM PHYS 122 -, 2005

Dougan L, Bates SP, Hargreaves R, Fox JP, Crain J, Finney JL, Reat V, Soper AK Methanol-water solutions: A bi-percolating liquid mixture J CHEM PHYS 121 6456-6462, 2004

Dougan L, Crain J, Vass H, Magennis SW Probing the liquid-state structure and dynamics of aqueous solutions by fluorescence spectroscopy, 2004