Phillips David

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David Phillips


Born December 3[math]^{rd}[/math], 1939.

Education: B.Sc. Hons. University of Birmingham Dept. of Chemistry 1961; Ph.D. (Physical Chemistry, University of Birmingham 1964)


  • Royal Society of Chemistry, President, 2010-2012,
  • Immediate Past President, 2012/13,
  • Imperial College London Professor of Physical Chemistry, 1989-1999,
  • Hofmann Professor of Chemistry, 1992-2006,
  • Head of Department Sciences of Chemistry, 1992-2002,
  • Dean of the Faculties of Life Sciences and Physical Sciences, 2002-2005,
  • Senior Dean, 2005/6,
  • Professor Emeritus, Senior Research Investigator, 2006-present,
  • Royal Institution of Great Britain, Wolfson Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1980-89,
  • Acting Director, 1986, Deputy Director 1986-1989 University of Southampton Lecturer in Physical Chemistry,
  • Senior Lecturer in Physical Chemistry,1973-76,
  • Reader in Physical Chemistry, 1976-1980,
  • Visiting Scientist, Institute of Chemical Physics, Academy of Sciences of USSR Moscow, under Royal Society - Academy of Sciences Exchange Programme (Supervisors Prof. V. Ya. Shliapintokh and Academician Professor V. N. Kondratiev),
  • Fulbright Scholar, Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of Texas at Austin, (Supervisor, Prof. W. Albert Noyes Jr.), 1964-66.


  • Fellow of the Royal Society, 2015,
  • CBE, for services to Chemistry, 2012,
  • OBE for services to Science Education, 1999,
  • Porter Medal [International competitive award offered by Inter-American Photochemistry Society European Photochemistry Association, and Oceanic and Asian Photochemistry Societies, 2012,
  • Honorary D. Sc’s University of Birmingham, 2011; University of Southampton 2012;University of Durham, Doctor of Laws, 2013; University of Westminster, 2014; University of Leicester, 2014; Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Bath, 2013; Honorary Fellowship of Imperial College, 2009; Award for service, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2009.
  • President, European Photochemistry Association,
  • Honorary Life Fellowship, British Association for the Advancement of Science [now British Science Society], 2006,
  • Honorary Life Fellowship, Royal Institution of Great Britain, 2005,
  • Society of Chemistry; Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society, 1997,
  • Nyholm Lecturer, Royal Society of Chemistry, 1994,
  • Honorary Fellowship of City and Guilds Institute, 2004,
  • President British Association Chemistry Section, 2000,
  • Vice-President, British Association for the Advancement of Science,
  • Wilsmore Fellow, University of Melbourne, Australia, 1982 and 1990,
  • J.W.T. Spinks Lectureship, University of Saskatchewan, Canada, 1976,
  • Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry [then RIC], 1976.

Research Achievements

In total 598 research papers, books and reviews and formal reports have been published,354 in the primary refereed literature. 57 Ph.D. students have been supervised; 48 M.Sc. students graduated for the 1-year M.Sc. in Photochemistry [University of Southampton], 51 post-doctoral fellows have spent one or more years carrying out research; and 43 academic visitors.

The main research goal was and is interdisciplinary studies exploiting time-resolved spectroscopic techniques including fluorescence, fluorescence imaging, absorption, diffuse reflectance, and resonance Raman spectroscopies in the study of intra-molecular dynamics of large electronically excited polyatomic molecules, and environmental effects on such molecules, and of particular note in recent times, the synthesis of novel porphyrin-based photosensitisers covalently linked to monoclonal antibody fragments to carry out targeted PDT using both one and two-photon excitation.

A major recent contribution has been in the field of photodynamic therapy of cancer and of microbes., involving the synthesis and separation of water-soluble phthalocyanines, and the characterisation of these, particularly the effect of concentration and pH on the aggregation of the dye [1] using fluorescence imaging techniques[2] to study distribution in tissue, [3].Diffuse reflectance flash photolysis studies on living microbe cells[e.coli, p.gingivalis, candida albicans, s.mutans] containing the sensitisers [4] , showed that for yeasts and G-negative bacteria, a type I electron transfer process occurs in addition to the Type II energy transfer process which is assumed in the PDT field to account for the destruction of cells. Most recently we have studied novel photosensitisers for PDT based upon other phthalocyanines, porphyrazines, and in collaboration with Professor H.A Anderson, FRS, Oxford, porphyrin oligomers which can be excited by both one- and two-photonexcitation [5,6] and demonstrated the utility of two-photon excitation in the sealing of blood vessels in mouse models.[7] Through our start-up company PhotoBiotics we have shown successful targeting of tumour cells and tissues using existing commercial and our own photo-sensitisers bound covalently to monoclonal antibody fragments [8,9].

Early work on photoprocesses in biological systems was on time-resolved fluorescence of fluorescence probes used in biology, eg the dansyl probe, and substituted indoles. Recent work studied the fluorescence of Green Fluorescent Protein, GFP in biological systems. The main contribution of the candidate was in the development of Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy, FLIM,[10] and the recognition that changes in the refractive index of the biological medium can influence the fluorescence decay of the probe[11]. FLIM has been used to great effect in the study of the human immune system, in collaboration with Davis, [Imperial Biology, now University of Manchester], and French, [Imperial Physics] in which GFP-tagged MHC [Major Histocompatibilty Complex] is used to investigate the interaction between Natural Killer Cells, and substrate cells [12,13]. Use of fluorescence of molecular rotors to study micro-viscosity in live cells viscosity has been reported [14].

David Phillips was involved from early stages in the development of time-resolved Raman and infra-red spectroscopy on short-lived transients, where considerable structural information is yielded in comparison with existing transient electronic absorption and emission measurements. Applied to molecules in which intramolecular charge-transfer can occur, typified by dimethylaminobenzonitrile [DMABN] and its derivatives, David Phillips group produced the first convincing, and now largely accepted evidence that the ICT state has a partially twisted geometry in that the dimethylamino group twists out of the plane of the benzene ring, and also undergoes some pyramidalisation.[15] They were also able to observe clearly a hydrogen-bonded charge-transfer state of dimethylaminobenzonitrile in methanol solution by the use of time-resolved infra-red spectroscopy.[16]

David Phillips also carried out substantial studies on gas-phase photochemistry and photophysics, of aromatic molecules, including supersonic jet spectroscopy [17-20]; and on photo-processes in synthetic polymers [21,22]. David Phillips also made a major contribution to the development of time-correlated single photon counting.[23]

David Phillips has throughout his career devoted himself to the public appreciation of science, lecturing to the young and lay public, and has reached live lecture audiences in excess of 250,000, as well as TV, and radio presentations in many countries.


[1] “The effect of pH on the photophysics and photochemistry of disulphonated aluminiumphthalocyanine”, R.B. Ostler, A.D. Scully, A.G. Taylor, I.R. Gould, T.A. Smith, A. Waite and D Phillips, Photochemistry and Photobiology, 2000, 71, 397-404.

[2]“Laser line-scanning confocal fluorescence imaging of the photodynamic actionof aluminium and zinc phthalocyanines in V7904 chinese hamster fibroblasts”, A.D. Scully, R.B. Ostler, A.J. MacRobert, A.W. Parker, C. de Lara, P. O’Neil and D. Phillips, Photochemistry and Photobiology, 1998, 68, 199-204

[3]“Distribution and photodynamic effects of disulphonatedaluminium phthalocyanine in the pancreas and adjacent tissues in the Syrian goldenhamster”, P. Nuttingen, J. Bedwell, A.J. MacRobert, P. Chatlani, D. Phillips, and S.G. Bown, Br. J. Cancer, 1991, 64, 1108-1115.

[4]“Flash photolysis of sensitzers in microbes”, T.C. Oldham and D. Phillips, J.Phys. Chem. 1999, 103, 9333-9349.

[5]“One and Two-photon Activated Phototoxicity of Conjugated Porphyrin Dimerwith High Two-photon Absorption Cross-sections” Emma Dahlstedt, Hazel A.Collins, Milan Balaz, MarinaK.Kuimova, MamtaKhurana, Brian C. Wilson, David Phillips and Harry L.AndersonOrganic and BiomolecularChemistry 2008, 7, 897-904

[6]“Photophysical Properties and Intracellular Imaging of Water-soluble PorphyrinDimers for Two-photon excited Photodynamic Therapy” Marina K.Kuimova, Hazel A Collins, Milan Balaz, Emma Dahlstedt, James A.Levitt, Nicolas Sergent, Klaus Suhling, Mikhail Drobizhev, Alexander B. Rebane, Harry L.Anderson, and David Phillips, Organic and BiomolecularChemistry, 2008,7, 889-896

[7]"Blood vessel closure via two-photon excitation of a conjugated porphyrin dimer” Hazel A.Collins, MamtaKhurana Eduardo Moriyama, Adrian Mariammpillai, Emma Dahlstedt, Milan Balaz, Marina K.Kuimova, David Phillips, Brian C.Wilson, and Harry L.AndersonNature Photonics, 2, 2008, 420-425

[8]"Fluorescence characterisation of multiply-loaded anti-HER2 single chain Fv-photosensitiser conjugates suitable for photodynamic therapy" Marina K.Kuimova, ManpreetBhatti, MahendraDeonarain, Gokhanahioglu,James A Levitt, IoannaStamati Klaus Suhling, and David Pillips Photochem.PhotobiolSci 2007 , 6, 933-939

[9]“Towards Targeted Photodynamic Therapy” DavidPhillips Pure and Applied Chemistry 2011, 83, 733-748

[10]“Time-resolved fluorescence microscopy” K.Suhling, P.M.W.French, and D.Phillips Photochem.Photobiol.Sci. 2005, 4, 13-22

[11] “Imaging the environment of Green Fluorescent Protein, GFP” K.Suhling, J.Siegel, D.Phillips, P.W.M.French, S.Leveque-Fort, S.E.D.Webb, and D.M.DavisBiophys J 2002, 83 , 3589-3595.Listed as paper 505 in papers submitted in 2013

[12] "Microclusters of inhibitory killer immunoglobulin-like receptor signaling at natural killer cell immunological synapses " BebhinTreanor, Peter.M.P.Lanigan, Sunil Kumar, ChrisDunsby, Ian Munro,Egidijus Auksorius, Fiona.J.Culley, Marco A.Purbhoo, DavidPhillips, Mark.A.A.Neil, Deborah N.Burshtyn, Paul M.W.French, and Daniel M.DavisJ.Cell Biology2006 , 174, 153-161

[13] “Imaging fluorescence lifetime heterogeneity applied to GFP-tagged MHC protein at an immunological synapse” B.Treanor, P.M.P.Lanigan, K.Suhling, T.Schreiber, I.Munro, M.A.A.Neil, D.Phillips, D.M.Davis, and P.M.W.FrenchJ.Microscopy. 2005, 217 36-43

[14] “Membrane-bound Molecular Rotors Measure Viscosity in Live Cells via Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging” JamesA.Levitt, Marina.K.Kuimova, GokhanYahioglu, Pei-HuaChung, Klaus Suhling and David Phillips J.Phys.Chem. C 2008, 113, 11634-11642

[15 ] “A determination of the structure of the intramolecular charge-transfer state of 4-dimethylaminobenzonitrile (DMABN) by time-resolved resonance RamanSpectroscopy”,W.M. Kwok, C. Ma, P. Matousek, A.W. Parker, D. Phillips, W.T. Toner,M. Towrie and S. Umapathy, J. Phys. Chem. A, 2001, 105, 984-990.

[16] Direct observation of a hydrogen-bonded charge-transfer state of 4-dimethylaminobenzonitrile,[DMABN] in methanol by time-resolved infra-red spectroscopy” W.M.Kwok, M.W.George, D.C.Grills, C.Ma, P.Matousek, A.W.Parker, D.Phillips, W.T.Toner, and M.Towrie AngewandteChemie International Edition 2003, 42, 1826- 1830

[17]“The ground and first excited singlet state torsional potentials of 2-phenylindolefrom supersonic jet fluorescence spectra”, W.E. Sinclair, H-P. Yu, D. Phillips and J.M. Hollas, J. Chem. Phys. 1997, 106,5797-5804.

[18] “The C(1)-C() torsion potential function and vibrational assignments of trans-methyl-styrene from S1-S0 supersonic jet fluorescence spectra” W.E. Sinclair, H. Yu, D. Phillips R.D. Gordon, J.M. Hollas, S. Klee, and G. Mellau. J.Phys. Chem. 1995, 99, 4386-4396.

[19]“Fluorescence of jet-cooled dimethylaminobenzo nitrile, its aggregates and solvated complexes”, R. Howell, D. Phillips, H. Petek and K. Yoshihara. Chem. Phys. 1994, 188, 303-316.

[20]”Laser-induced Fluorescence Spectroscopy of 4-amino-benzonitrile 4,N,N-dimethylaminobenzonitrile and their van der Waals Complexes in a SupersonicJet”, E.M. Gibson, A.C. Jones, A.G. Taylor, W.G. Bouwman, D.Phillips and J. Sandell, J. Phys. Chem., 1988, 92, 5449-5455.

[21]"Multicomponent Fluorescence Decay in Vinyl Aromatic Polymers and Copolymers", A.J. Roberts, D.V. O'Connor and D. Phillips. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 1981 , 366, 109-124.

[22].“One-dimensional Exciton Diffusion in a Conjugated Polymer”, S.D.D.V. Rughooputh, D. Bloor, D. Phillips and B. Movaghar, Phys.Rev.B. 1987, 35 , 8103-8112

[23]"Time-Correlated Single-PhotonCounting",[Book] D.V. O'Connor and D. Phillips. Academic Press, London, 1984, pp 288.