School of Physical and Chemical Sciences, Te Kura Matū Seminar Series

Sugars & proteins: towards a synthetic biology


Benjamin G. Davis (Ferrier Lecture)


Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford, Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TA, UK

Time & Place

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 11:00:00 NZDT in Rutherford Room 531

All are welcome


Our work studies the interplay of biomolecules – proteins, sugars and their modifications.

Synthetic Biology’s development at the start of this century may be compared with Synthetic Organic Chemistry’s expansion at the start of the last; after decades of isolation, identification, analysis and functional confirmation the future logical and free-ranging redesign of biomacromolecules offers tantalizing opportunities. This lecture will cover emerging areas in our group in chemical manipulation of biomoleclules with an emphasis on new bond-forming and -breaking processes compatible with biology:

(i) New methods: Despite 90-years-worth of non-specific, chemical modification of proteins, precise methods in protein chemistry remain rare. The development of efficient, complete, chemo- and regio-selective methods, applied in benign aqueous systems to redesign and reprogramme the structure and function of biomolecule both in vitro and in vivo will be presented.

(ii) ‘Synthetic Biologics’ and their applications: biomimicry; functional recapitulation; effector [drug/agrochemical/gene/radio-dose] delivery; selective protein degradation; inhibitors of pathogen interactions; non-invasive presymptopmatic disease diagnosis; probes and modulators of in vivo function.