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Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry+44 (0) 191 33 42109


James W. Walton completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Durham with First Class Honours. Under the supervision of Prof. David Parker, he completed a PhD entitled “Highly Emissive Europium Complexes”, funded by CISbio Bioassays, an immunoassay company based in the south of France. This was followed by postdoctoral work with Prof. Jonathan M. J. Williams at the University of Bath, developing ruthenium complexes for catalytic SNAr reactions and catalytic methods of amide synthesis. James began a lectureship at Durham in inorganic chemistry in January 2014.


The research projects in the Walton group are linked through the design, synthesis and evaluation of organometallic complexes. Specific projects include organometallic platinum group metal complexes as therapeutic agents and ruthenium pi-arene complexes in catalysis. Click here to see the Walton group website

Piano stool metal complexes have been explored for several decades as potential anticancer agents. Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) enzymes are excellent targets for such therapeutic activity. We recently published the first examples of Ru(II) and Rh(III) piano stool HDAC inhibitors (Figure below, ChemPlusChem, 2016, DOI:10.1002/cplu.201600413). The novel complexes have anticancer activity comparable to the clinically used HDAC inhibitor SAHA. Our current work is exploring the design (using computational modelling) and synthesis of potent and isoform-selective HDAC inhibitors. We combine organic and inorganic synthesis to produce series of Ru, Os, Ir and Rh complxes. Analysis of these complexes include a range of enzyme binding assays, cytotoxicity studies and measurement of interactions with biomolecules using NMR, MS, IR and fluorescence spectroscopy. If you would like to discuss projects in this area, please contact

We are also interested in the use of Ru(η6-arene)Ln complexes as catalysts (Figure below). Binding of arenes to Ru increases their reactivity towards several processes (SNAr, C–H activation, Trifluoromethylation etc.). However, the Ru–(η6-arene) bond is strong and a stoichiometric amount of Ru is required. Our goal is to develop systems in which the rate of arene dissociation/exchange is matched with the rate of arene reactivity, leading to a catalytic cycle. This is achieved through choice of ligand, Ln, and incorporation of tethers, lowering the activation barrier for dissociation. Read about our latest results in this area If you would like to discuss projects in this area, please contact


We are always interested in potential fellowship, postdoctoral, PhD, Masters and Erasmus applications. Contact Dr. James W. Walton with a CV to discuss potential positions available. Informal enquiries also welcome. 

Research interests

  • Catalysis
  • Metal Complexes in Medicine
  • Organometallic Chemistry


Chapter in book

Journal Article

Supervision students