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Dr Paul Gates

Dr Paul Gates

Dr Paul Gates
BSc (Warw.), M.Sc.(Warw.), Ph.D.(Cantab.)

Research Fellow

Office W412 (lab W404)
School of Chemistry,
Cantock's Close, Bristol BS8 1TS
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 3317192


My speciality and area of research is the analysis of natural products and complex organic molecules by tandem and sequential mass spectrometry - especially using electrospray ionisation and collision induced dissociation. I am also generally interested in all areas of modern mass spectrometry, especially those applied to ion fragmentation studies and gas-phase chemistry.

Other ares of research revolve around improving existing mass spectrometry methodologies, especially when related to the analysis of inorganic complexes and studying the application and development of novel matrices for matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation.


I was born in Cambridge UK and as a child, I was always fascinated in the equipment my father (an engineer) used at work and I think this initiated a general interest in science. In 1991, I graduated with a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Warwick. I specialised in biological applications of mass spectrometry in my final year research project. Later that year I took up a technician post in mass spectrometry at the University of Cambridge Chemical Laboratory. During my 2 years in this position I analysed thousands of newly synthesised molecules from the researchers in the department (mainly by FAB, but also by EI). This stimulated my interest in mass spectrometry and as well as becoming an expert operator of the complex instrumentation, I was interested in the fact that so little was known about how ionisation actually occurred and what was really going on when an analyte passed from the solid or solution phase into the gas-phase.

In January 1994 I returned to Warwick University to study for an MSc by research in Mass Spectrometry with Professor Peter Derrick. The Derrick group was a melting pot of international/interdisciplinary research with 30+ researchers in the group from all around the World. My own project (part funded by Courtauld’s Research) was the study of the application of the newly commercialised MALDI-TOF technique for the mass spectral analysis of saccharides. After 18 months I completed my project and stayed on as interim Technical Officer whilst the World leading 9.4Tesla FT-ICR-MS instrument was installed. This appointment lasted for about 9 months, and during that time I was one of the first people at Warwick to work on the FT-ICR instrument.

In October 1996 I started my PhD at Cambridge University Chemistry Laboratory working with Professors James Staunton and Peter Leadley (fully funded by the BBSRC) researching the application of new Mass Spectrometric based techniques to help solve biological challenges. My project was specifically the application of ultra high resolution sequential mass spectrometry (by FT-ICR-MS) to the analysis of natural products. During this project I developed methods to pinpoint structural alterations in complex natural products biosynthesised by genetically engineered enzymes using accurate-mass sequential mass spectrometry. After completing my PhD, I stayed on in the Staunton group for an almost 4 year Postdoctoral project (part funded by Unilever) continuing the applications of high-resolution and sequential mass spectrometry to the structural studies of complex natural products. During this period I established my collaboration with the group of Professor Norberto Lopes at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

In November 2003, I was appointed to my current post at the University of Bristol.


  • mass spectrometry
  • ion fragmentation
  • natural products
  • complex organic molecules
  • gas-phase chemistry
  • inorganic mass spectrometry



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