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School of Physical & Chemical Sciences
+64 3 3695157
Research projects in my group involve ligand synthesis (organic chemistry), complex synthesis (inorganic chemistry) and then study of the reactivity of the resulting systems – often in the context of a biological or biochemical application. We are particularly interested in the challenges of preparing systems containing more than kind of metal ion, as potential photoactivated anti-cancer drugs, and in using metal centres to control the synthesis of new amino acid derivatives. I also have a significant interest in chemical nomenclature and structure representation – I am a co-author of IUPAC books and articles in the area, and as a result of that involvement I have been elected Secretary General of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.Photoactivated CytotoxinsOne of the key challenges in cancer therapy is that of targeting tumour cells and leaving normal cells untouched. An exciting strategy is to use light to activate an anti-cancer drug – a laser could be better than a scalpel!A Ru(II)-Co(III) complex has been prepared in the group and models the required chemistry (Dalton Trans., 2012: 14425-14432). Blue light causes an electron to be transferred from Ru(II) to Co(III), and the resulting Co(II) complex releases its ligands. The next challenge is to use cytotoxic ligands in place of the ethane-1,2-diamine ligands and produce a range of derivatives for testing.