Research Network for Metals in Medicine



Dr Rachel Codd

BSc(Hons. I)(USyd), PhD(USyd), MRACI, CChem

Position: Lecturer in Chemistry

Affiliation: Centre for Heavy Metals Research, School of Chemistry, University of Sydney

Postal Address:
Centre for Heavy Metals Research
School of Chemistry
The University of Sydney NSW 2006

Phone: +61 (2) 4620 3218
Fax: +61 (2) 4620 3025

Research Profile

Dr Codd has broad research expertise in bioinorganic chemistry with particular focus upon, metalloprotein purification, EPR spectroscopy for the deconvolution of complex metal-bioligand speciation profiles and equilibria, chemical synthesis and molecular mechanics calculations.

Sialic acids are a family of acidic N-acetylated carbohydrates that terminate cell-bound glycoproteins in both animals and humans and play critical roles in cell recognition and adhesion phenomena. The most common sialic acid in humans, N-acetylneuraminic acid, has received much attention in the last decade, since this molecule served as the model for the development of the anti-flu drug, Relenza. While the organic chemistry of N-acetylneuraminic acid is under continual research, there are few studies that examine metal-N-acetylneuraminic acid speciation and the implications that these species have on cell integrity. Our group has demonstrated that stable complexes form between transition metal ions and N-acetylneuraminic acid. This research program is currently being expanded to examine the types of species formed between N-acetylneuraminic acid and transition metal ions found in serum, (eg; Cu, Fe) and the effects that these complexes have upon cell integrity and/or metal translocation phenomena. Most recently, we have used two-dimensional analysis of EPR spectroscopic data and molecular mechanics calculations to determine the speciation profile of Cu(II) and sialic acid complexes under physiologically relevant conditions.

Biomolecules from Cold-Adapted Bacteria
We are studying small-molecule metal chelates produced by microorganisms that optimally reside under hypothermophilic (more commonly known as ‘psychrophilic’; ‘psychro’ is Greek for ‘cold’) conditions, such as those found in the Antarctic. We are initiating studies of cold-adapted siderophores to ascertain whether cold-adapted organisms produce a ‘super-siderophore’ in response to extremely low iron concentrations present in sea water at low temperature. These molecules may have medicinal significance with respect to metal chelation therapies for patients with b-thalassemia.

Selected Publications

  1. X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopic Studies of Cr(V/IV/III) 2-Ethyl-2-hydroxybutanoato(2–/1–) Complexes. Levina, A.; Codd, R.; Foran, G. J.; Hambley, T. W.; Maschmeyer, T.; Masters, A. F.; Lay, P. A. in press (Inorg. Chem.)
  2. Book Chapter ‘Biomolecules from Extremophilic Life’ Codd, R. of ‘From Zero to Infinity’ (Science Foundation for Physics, University of Sydney) 2003.
  3. Oxochromium(V) species formed with 2,3-dehydro-2-deoxy-N-acetylneuraminic or N-acetylneuraminic (sialic) acids. An in vitro model system of oxochromium(V) species potentially stabilised in the respiratory tract upon inhalation of carcinogenic chromium(VI) compounds. Codd, R.; Lay, P. A. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 2003, 7, 881-892.
  4. Sialoglycoprotein and Carbohydrate Complexes in Chromium Toxicity. Codd, R.; Irwin, J. A.; Lay, P. A. Curr. Opin. Chem. Biol. 2003, 7, 213-219.
  5. Chromium in Biology: Toxicology and Nutritional Aspects. Levina, A.; Codd, R.; Dillon, C. T.; Lay, P. A. Prog. Inorg. Chem. 2003, 51, 145-250.
  6. A potential synthon for models of vanadium haloperoxidase: (3,5-dimethylpyrazole)bis[2-hydroxy-2-methylbutanoato(1–)]oxovanadium(IV). Raishbrook, S. L.; Turner, P.; Codd, R. Acta Cryst. 2002, E58, m737-m739.
  7. Pulsed ELDOR spectroscopy of the Mo(V)/Fe(III) state of sulfite oxidase prepared by one-electron reduction with Ti(III) citrate. Codd, R.; Astashkin, A. V.; Pacheco, A.; Raitsimring, A. M.; Enemark, J. H. JBIC, J. Biol. Inorg. Chem. 2002, 7, 338-350.
  8. Chromium(V)–Sialic (Neuraminic) Acid Species are Formed from Mixtures of Chromium(VI) and Saliva. Codd, R.; Lay, P. A. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2001, 123, 11799-11800.
  9. Studies on the Genotoxicity of Chromium: From the Test Tube to the Cell. Codd, R.; Dillon, C. T.; Levina, A.; Lay, P. A. Coord. Chem. Rev. 2001, 216, 537-582.
  10. Characterization and X-ray Absorption Spectroscopic Studies of Bis[quinato(2–)]oxochromate(V). Codd, R.; Levina, A.; Zhang, L.; Hambley, T. W.; Lay, P. A. Inorg. Chem. 2000, 39, 990-997.
  11. Competition between 1,2-Diol and 2-Hydroxy Acid Coordination in Cr(V)-Quinic Acid Complexes: Implications for Stabilization of Cr(V) Intermediates of Relevance to Cr(VI)-Induced Carcinogenesis. Codd, R.; Lay, P. A. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1999, 121, 7864-7876.


  • Electron Paramagnetic Resonance Spectroscopic Facility: multifrequency, variable temperature and continuous wave and pulsed capabilities
  • Biological Chemistry Laboratory: HPLC, cryogenic storage, refrigerated centrifuge

International Linkages

Prof A. Rockenbauer (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary)
Dr T. Szabó-Plánka (University of Szeged, Hungary)