Scientific interests

My work in chemical biology is directed at recognition processes between small and large biological molecules. It seeks to achieve a better understanding of the mechanisms of biological processes and drug design and apply them to medical problems. This subject makes equal demands on synthesis of new compounds and the quantitative evaluation of their behaviour in a real biological context.

A major theme of the programme is the stereochemically controlled synthesis of phosphonic acids, especially of a-fluorophosphonic acids as analogues of biological phosphates. These have been developed particularly in relation to nucleotide mimics for inhibiting cell-signalling processes. The synthesis of a stable, charge-switchable analogue of S-adenosyl L-methionine (AzaSAM) has led to a high definition of enzyme catalysis for some SN2 biological methylation reactions.

Our recent, controversial proposal that the magnesium trifluoride anion is an isosteric and isoelectronic transition state analogue of metaphosphate in several enzyme-catalysed phosphoryl transfer reactions has been amply verified. Its application to understanding the nature of enzyme catalysis is expanding rapidly.


Scientific societies’ membership

Secretary IUPAC Division-3 Biomolecular Chemistry S/C, 2000-2002,

Secretary IUPAC Division-3 Committee, 2002-2006.

Chairman IUPAC Div-3 Biomolecular Chemistry 2006-2008.