James Frost on thinking big at a molecular level

26 April 2012

26 Apr 2012

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in science?
I enjoy the challenge of complex problems which require the need to think in a broad sense and draw from different sources of knowledge and experience. With its rich diversity of transformations, I find the area of science involving synthetic organic chemistry means I can not only solve complex problems but also allows me to develop extremely creative approaches.

What is your research topic?
My PhD involves the lab synthesis of naturally occurring molecules: callipeltosides A, B and C. These structurally complex molecules have been isolated in limited quantities from the marine sponge Callipelta sp., with preliminary biological assays indicating that they show anti-cancer activity. My aim is to synthesise greater quantities of these molecules so that we can understand more about their potential mode of action.

What is innovative about your research?
Our approach to these molecules is designed to involve the least number of steps, be convergent and allow access to all three natural products from a common material. Implementation of our synthetic strategy has led us to develop new methods for the application in total synthesis.

Are there any potential applications or any competitive advantages for industry as a result of your research?
The synthetic methods established from this project can result in new, scalable, cheaper, more efficient and practical methods towards the production of pyran-containing natural products, drugs and agrochemicals.

Has this work led to any other promising research?
The methodology we've developed may be used in the future production of other molecules that have biological and therapeutic potential.

What has been your proudest achievement so far?
I consider myself very lucky to have been given the opportunity to work in a top research group in a field that I find interesting, competitive and of academic and industrial interest. I would say my proudest achievement is that I have embarked on a career I find stimulating and extremely challenging.

What is the next milestone in your career?
Once I have completed my PhD, I would like to undertake a postdoctoral placement somewhere in Europe. Following this, I'd like to remain heavily involved in scientific research in either an industrial or an academic setting.

What does winning an SCI scholarship mean for you?
The award of an SCI scholarship means that I will have the opportunity to present my research to the scientific community on an international stage at the International Conference in Organic Synthesis in Melbourne, Australia, in July 2012. This will allow me to communicate and network with my peers in both academia and industry in an educationally stimulating environment

You can connect with other SCI members who are in a similar field to James, through the SCI Members' Directory.

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