Student awarded prestigious Fulbright Award
Press release issued: 8 June 2009
A Bristol University research student has gained a prestigious Fulbright Commission Distinguished Scholarship Award to pursue his work on the chemical synthesis of potent anticancer agents at a Research Institute in California. It is hoped his research will lead to the development of powerful new clinical medicines.
Mike Shaw who is studying for a PhD in the University’s School of Chemistry gained the 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 his research at the Scripps Research Institute in California, the world's largest independent non-profit biomedical research facility.
The molecules Mike will be working on are amongst the most potent anti-cancer agents ever discovered; it only takes a single one of these molecules to destroy an entire cancerous cell. Unfortunately, these molecules have a very low natural abundance, with only five milligrams being isolated from over 250g of Japanese Sea Squirts. As there are ethical and practical issues surrounding the harvesting of these molecules from their natural source, Mike seeks to develop a way to synthesise these molecules in the laboratory. This will render them readily available for further biological testing, and eventually, clinical use.
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. Each year, only two awards are offered to outstanding UK professionals or academics to undertake lecturing, research or a combination of the two, at any accredited US institution for a period of three to ten months.
Mike said: “I’m delighted to have been given this opportunity to undertake research at Scripps. There is no better place to conduct these investigations, and I intend to make the most of this chance to further myself as a scientist. Moreover, I am especially proud to be representing the Fulbright Commission, an organisation which has a long and distinguished history of supporting important international collaborations. I will do all I can, while in America, and on my return, to further the Commission’s aims of promoting international understanding and cultural awareness.”
Varinder Aggarwal, Head of Mike’s Research Group and Professor of Synthetic Chemistry at the University, said: "Mike is to be congratulated on being awarded the highly prestigious Fulbright Commission Distinguished Scholar Award. He is a highly gifted scientist who has consistently demonstrated remarkable insight and creativity in chemistry. It is wonderful to see that these important talents have been recognised by the Fulbright Commission in their award to Mike. He will also be an excellent ambassador for the programme and for UK science."