January 9, 2007
RCSI hosts the fifth CSCB Advances in Synthesis and Chemical Biology Symposium

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) was the venue for Recent Advances in Synthesis and Chemical Biology V, the fifth annual Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology (CSCB) symposium which was held on December 15. The 200 delegates heard plenary lectures from six distinguished speakers, describing current research at the interface between chemistry and biology, including designing new anti-HIV agents and developing a test for multiple sclerosis.

Photo of CSCB symposium speakers with Professor Kevin Nolan
From Left to Right: Professors Erick Carreira (ETH), Barbara Imperiali (MIT), Peter Sadler (University of Edinburgh), Tom Simpson (University of Bristol), Anna Maria Papini (University of Florence), Gerard Canters (Leiden University). Centre: Professor Kevin Nolan (RCSI)

In his opening remarks Mr Michael Horgan, CEO of the RCSI, commended the collaborative efforts of UCD, TCD and the RCSI. "The collaboration between chemistry and biomedical researchers in the three institutions has resulted in new programmes of research in the area of chemical biology and in the sharing of resources. In all three institutions the CSCB has had a major impact on graduate and undergraduate teaching.  Here in RCSI the CSCB-derived resources have been of invaluable benefit to the teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate Chemistry programmes in the School of Pharmacy."

Photo of Dr John O'Brien from TCD and Professor Frank Hegarty and Professor Rory More O'Ferrall
Dr John O'Brien from TCD and Professors Frank Hegarty and
Rory More O'Ferrall from UCD

Starting the day’s programme of lectures Professor Tom Simpson, University of Bristol, explained how the answers are in the genes in his lecture about the antibacterial skin cream Mupirocin entitled Synthetic, Structural and Genetic Studies on Antibiotic (Mupirocin) Biosynthesis. 

PhD students David Lawlor UCd and Aaron MArtin from the IT Tallaght
David Lawlor from UCD and Aaron Martin from the IT Tallaght

In her lecture Chemical Tools for the Study of Complex Biological Systems, Professor Barbara Imperiali of Massachusetts Institute of Technology described how chemists are designing molecules to use as "Trojan horses” to investigate cell migration, a key process in immune response and the repair of injured tissue.

Photo of PhD students Billy Fleming and Sean Mc Keon from UCD
Sean McKeon and Billy Fleming from UCD

Professor Peter Sadler, University of Edinburgh, began his lecture on Using Coordination Chemistry to Design New Medicines by illustrating a periodic table of medicines. Professor Sadler’s lecture emphasised the diversity of roles for metal complexes in medicine citing examples of the potent anti-HIV agent “Mozobil” and osmium anti-cancer complexes.

Professor Erick Carreira of the ETH, Zürich started the afternoon session with his lecture entitled Amphotericin B: Chemical and Biological Studies. Amphotericin B is the drug of choice for fungal infections and can be used as a functional probe to gain insights into membrane biology. His lecture described his studies to determine the key structural features which give this molecule its biological activity.

Photo of Professor David Grayson from TCD and Professor William Spillane from UCC at the CSCB symposium
Professors David Grayson from TCD and William Spillane from UCC

Professor Anna Maria Papini, University of Florence, presented An innovative chemical reverse approach to the discovery of specific biomarkers of autoimmune diseases. Based on this research, a diagnostic immunoassay to guide treatment for multiple sclerosis is in commercial development.

Photo of PhD students Berry Matijssen and Frank Lewis from TCD
Berry Matijssen and Frank Lewis from TCD

The final lecture of the day was presented by Professor Gerard Canters of Leiden Institute of Chemistry, The Netherlands, entitled Redox Activity in Protein Maquettes and Single Enzyme Molecules. Professor Canters described how the manipulation and monitoring of electron transfer between proteins can be used to elicit significant information about enzyme reactions.

In addition to the plenary lectures, postgraduates and postdoctoral scientists from all over Ireland exhibited their research in a poster competition. The standard of entry was very high and the judges Dr Marc Devocelle (RCSI), Dr Francesca Paradisi (UCD) and Professor David Grayson (TCD) had a difficult decision choosing the best three entries. The winners of the poster competition were Dr Guillaume Anquetin (UCD), Juliet Cotter (UCD) and Catriona O’Meara (DIT) .

Photo of Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology postgraduates Guillaume Anquetin and Juliet Cotter who won prizes for their posters at the symposium
Dr Guillaume Anquetin and Juliet Cotter
who won prizes for their posters

Dr Guillaume Anquetin's poster was entitled Synthesis of Natural Product Analogs for Angiogenesis and Cancer. Angiogenesis is a fundamental step in the transition of tumours from a dormant to a malignant state. Dr Anquetin, who works in the group of CSCB investigator Professor Paul Murphy, UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, has developed a new synthetic route which promises to give access to novel anti-cancer and anti-angiogenesis based therapeutics.

Photo of PhD student Matthew Grant from Queen's University
Matthew Stewart from Queen's University
Photo of PhD studnet John Grealis, Emilie Banide with Professor Michael McGlinchey from UCD
John Grealis and
Emilie Banide with Professor Michael McGlinchey, all from UCD

Juliet Cotter, a postgraduate under the supervision of CSCB investigator, Dr Donal O’Shea, UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, won a prize for her poster describing Vinyl Lithiation of cis-Stilbenes and Directed Vinyl-lithiation of an Unsymmetrical cis-Stilbene. Organolithium species are ubiquitous in synthetic chemistry and this methodology has far-reaching applications in the preparation of complex molecules.

Investigation of a metal complexing route to form arene trans-Dihydrodiols was the title of the poster which won a prize for Catriona O’Meara who works in the Dublin Institute of Technology in collaboration with Professor Rory More O’Ferrall, UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. These metabolites are formed in the body by the action of enzymes but are also of significant value industrially for the formation of enantiopure products. Catriona’s work is focussed on developing a viable scaleable route to these compounds.

Photo of PhD student Catriona O'Meara from DIT who also won a prize for her poster at the CSCB symposium
Catriona O'Meara from DIT who won a prize for her poster

Photo of CSCB PhD student Clara Pampillon from UCD
Clara Pampillon from UCD

Susan Kelleher and Noel McLaughlin from UCD



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