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Posted: 31 May 2007

Ireland’s first professorship in chemical biology

UCD has signalled its commitment to international research at the interface between chemistry and biology through its appointment of the first professor of chemical biology in Ireland.

Professor Stefan Oscarson, who is currently working with international research groups and pharmaceutical companies on the development of vaccines against bacteria and fungi (principally focusing on the bacteria N. meningitides which causes meningitis) has been appointed to the new professorial post.

Professor Stefan Oscarson outside the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology in UCD
Professor Stefan Oscarson outside the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology in UCD

After completing his BSc in Chemistry (1978) and PhD (1985) at Stockholm University, Professor Oscarson worked as a researcher at the Swedish Tobacco Company. Following this, in 1986 he joined the staff at Stockholm University. In 2000, he was appointed Professor of Organic Chemistry at the university, and from 2002 to 2004 he was Professor of Organic Chemistry at Göteborg University.

Professor Oscarson's distinguished academic and research career includes a prolific publication record. In 2007, he was appointed Editor of Carbohydrate Research. His main research interest is the synthesis of biologically active natural products, in particular oligosaccharides and glycoconjugates, for use in biological and medicinal experiments and applications. His research also includes the development of new types of antibiotics against bacteria such as H. pylori, implicated in peptic ulcers, and E. coli which causes urinary tract infections and investigating the specificities and functions of human lectins as galectins and calnexin.

Another important research area for Professor Oscarson is the development of new protecting group and glycosylation methodology. In 2000, Professor Oscarson introduced a new glycosylation technique which made it possible to synthesise sucrose (cane sugar) stereoselectively, a task that had been a challenge for carbohydrate chemists for more than a century. The results were published in Journal of American Chemical Society, were featured in Science, and chosen by Chemical & Engineering News as a chemical highlight of the year in 2000.

In early 2007, Professor Oscarson received an SFI Professor Recruitment award of €760,000. His research group is due to move into the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology (CSCB) in UCD. He will also oversee the new UCD degree programme in Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

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