Messel Travel Bursar Bingli Mo reports from Challenges in Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology

I was fortunate to attend the Challenges in Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology conference, the first International Symposium on Advancing the Chemical Sciences (ISACS) which took place from 6 July 2010, in San Francisco. The conference was primarily intended to provide opportunities for participants to learn more about the latest advances in topical developments and challenges, and also to support the launch of the new RSC flagship journal Chemical Science.

During the Bioorganic Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry poster session, I presented my poster entitled 'A Generic Approach to Disrupting Protein-Protein Interactions - Application to the hIgE-FcεRI Interface'. The aim of this poster is to present details of the preliminary studies towards developing a synthetic mutagenesis strategy for synthesising aromatic amino acids building blocks, which are primed for site specific conversion to biaryl derivatives when incorporated into peptides via solid phase peptide synthesis (SPPS). Throughout the two hour session, many participants showed interest, asked questions and offered suggestions and ideas. The poster sessions provided me with ample opportunities to meet people and discuss my research work with a large number of chemists.

The conference had an intense schedule, featuring an impressive line up of 18 plenary speakers presenting their research work over two days. In the organic chemistry session, topics covered included studies and developments of metal- and organo-catalysis, and syntheses of natural products for medicinal purposes; in chemical biology session, topics covered included proteomics, re-coding genes of life and bioorthogonal chemistry.

It was very inspiring to have such a great chance to see some of the renowned chemists presenting their work, many of whom I'd heard of and read their research papers but never seen giving a lecture, for example, Prof Stephen Buchwald, Prof David MacMillan, Prof Ben Feringa and Prof Carolyn Bertozzi. Attending their lectures not only provided me a good opportunity to learn various aspects of chemical biology at the interface of organic synthesis, which I could incorporate into my last-stage PhD research work; but also widened my vision for future career choices. Though there was room to initiate new collaborations, I did not pursue these due to time-constraints in my final stages of PhD studies.

My PhD project is a collaboration between two research groups at Imperial College. Both groups have research elements from synthetic organic chemistry and chemical biology. This conference is strongly relevant to our work in both areas of research. After coming back from USA, I presented an overview of the conference updating latest trends, which grabbed strong attentions from members of my groups. In summary, this conference has provided me with a wealth of knowledge in the ever growing areas of organic chemistry and chemical biology.

Thanks to both SCI for the Messel Bursary and AstraZeneca for the conference travel bursary, which enabled me to attend the conference.

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