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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 application of mass spectrometry to the analysis of natural products and complex organic molecules - especially by using electrospray ionisation and collision induced dissociation tandem and sequential mass spectrometry. One of the goals of this research is the rationalisation of fragmentation mechanisms by computational methods and the modelling of multi-step pathways.

I am also generally interested in all areas of modern mass spectrometry. I have active research projects in areas such as: improving existing mass spectrometry methodologies, the analysis of inorganic complexes, studying the application and development of novel matrices for matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation and developing improved methods for the analysis of complex mixtures (e.g. oils or metabolic extracts).


I was born in Cambridge UK and graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Pure Chemistry from the University of Warwick in 1991. For my final year project, I specialised in biological applications of mass spectrometry working with Professor Peter Derrick. After completing my degree, I returned to Cambridge where I worked in the mass spectrometry laboratories at the University of Cambridge. This stimulated my interest in mass spectrometry and as well as becoming an expert operator, I was interested in the fact that so little was known about how ionisation occurred and why analytes fragmented the way they do.

In January 1994, I returned to Warwick University to study for an MSc in Mass Spectrometry, again with Professor Peter Derrick. My project, funded by Courtauld’s Research, made use of the new technique (MALDI-TOF-MS) to study polysaccharides. After completing my MSc, I stayed on at Warwick and helped set up the new 9.4Tesla FT-ICR national facility.

In October 1996, I returned to Cambridge to study for my PhD working with Professors James Staunton and Peter Leadley. My project, fully funded by the BBSRC, was to study the application of new Mass Spectrometric techniques to help solve biological challenges. My project was specifically the application of ultra-high resolution sequential mass spectrometry (by FT-ICR-MSn) 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. After completing my PhD, I stayed on in the Staunton group for a 4-year Postdoctoral project (partly funded by Unilever).

In November 2003, I was appointed to my current post as Mass Spectrometry Facility Manager at the University of Bristol.


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



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