“The opportunity to work at Imperial has attracted some of the best young talents in the world to our team – they are the very bedrock on which our achievements are built.”
I received my BSc from Imperial in the 1980s, but then undertook a Master’s at Durham studying pyrophoric boranes, before returning to London and King’s College London to obtain my PhD in organic chemistry. Here I studied the synthesis of signalling phospholipids, and this became the key to my current position with Professor Livingston in the Department of Chemical Engineering.
My knowledge of phosphorus chemistry led to a new approach to oligos, small lengths of DNA-like molecules that have become a major new class of drugs. I also became an engineering chemist, as happy with a spanner as a glass flask, using chemical insights to help develop the new solvent-stable membranes at the heart of our molecular sieving separation technology. We can now make oligos by scalable liquid phase synthesis, and have expanded the concept to other sequence-defined polymers, such as peptides and polyethers (PEGs and PEGabet).
Today, I help to run a team of about ten scientists and engineers, and have co-founded an Imperial spin-out company, Exactmer, to commercialise our technology. The opportunity to work Imperial has attracted some of the best young talents in the world to our team – they are the very bedrock on which our achievements are built.