Bristol scholar wins prestigious U.S. award
Press release issued: 6 June 2003
A research student at Bristol University has gained a Fulbright Distinguished Scholarship to pursue his work on 'red-tide' toxins in the USA.
Graham Simpson from the School of Chemistry gained this prestigious award after a highly competitive application process culminating in a series of interviews at Fulbright House in London. The award will allow him to carry out research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston on the total synthesis of 'red-tide' toxins.
This ambitious project seeks to emulate Nature's assembly of these toxins which are produced by microscopic marine algae and cause severe food poisoning in humans due to their accumulation in shellfish. Few molecules of such complexity have ever been synthesised in a laboratory environment.
The work is essential due to the limited availability of the toxins themselves. Laboratory attempts at either isolating or manufacturing the toxins have so far failed to yield amounts large enough for medical science to evaluate in order to successfully develop an antidote to the toxin's lethal effects.
Graham said: "I'm delighted to have this opportunity to further my work in America. My research will aim to develop a rapid and efficient mode of synthesising these highly complex toxins in the laboratory.
"Imitating the toxin's structure, known as a 'ladder polyether', a series of controlled chemical reactions can be made to take place which 'zip up' the different sized rungs in a continuous chain. This innovative and exciting strategy promises to yield large quantities of the toxin, enabling fuller investigation into its biological effects."
Graham, who hails from Moffat in the Scottish Borders, is no stranger to winning awards having graduated from Strathclyde University with a string of prizes before coming to Bristol to join Professor Tim Gallagher's group.
Fulbright Distinguished Scholarships are awarded to people from any area of scholarship or research who are or have the potential to become leaders in their field.