School of Chemistry Researchers Awarded 3 Discovery Project Grants

Congratulations to Associate Professor Colette Boskovic, Associate Professor Craig Hutton, and Professor Gavin Reid for each successfully obtaining an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project grant. Together they have received over $1.25 million, contributing to the Faculty of Science’s total of nearly $9.75 million.

Associate Professor Boskovic’s project “Harnessing redox-active ligands in functional metal complexes” aims to synthesise and investigate metal-based molecules that can be reversibly switched between forms with different physical properties, such as colour or electrical conductivity, upon exposure to heat, light or electrical potential. The project expects to develop compounds that offer physical properties relevant for deployment in advanced materials or nanodevices. Expected outcomes of this project include elucidation of chemical routes to tuning the switchability and candidate compounds for future applications. As well as achieving important advances in fundamental chemistry, this project should provide significant benefits, such as novel materials for molecular electronics/spintronics, photoresponsive devices or sensors.

Associate Professor Craig Hutton’s project “Thioamide ligations: new technologies for peptide and protein synthesis” will aim to develop novel amide-bond forming reactions for the chemical synthesis of peptides and proteins. New peptide ligation strategies, including an asparagine-based ligation and a residue-independent ligation will be developed that exploit the recent discovery of silver-promoted coupling reactions of thioamides. A novel late-stage, chemo-selective assembly of N-glycosylated asparagine residues in peptides and proteins will also be developed. The outcomes of this research will lead to breakthroughs in synthetic methodologies for the assembly and functionalisation of peptides and proteins, thereby enabling access to a range of homogeneous, post translationally modified proteins though total chemical synthesis. These research outcomes will expand Australia's research capability and global competitiveness in the field of biotechnology, delivering significant benefits to the third largest manufacturing sector in Australia.

Professor Gavin Reid’s project “Cutting the fat: photodissociation mass spectrometry for lipidome analysis” intends to develop and apply novel bioanalytical mass spectrometry-based methods and workflows to illuminate the otherwise hidden structural diversity and molecular complexity of the lipidome. The structure of individual lipids define their specific biological functions. A major requirement of analytical methods employed for lipid analysis on a lipidome-wide scale, therefore, is to enable the detailed structural characterisation of the, potentially, tens of thousands of individual molecular lipid species that may be present within a sample of interest. This project will develop and optimise novel, ultraviolet photodissociation-tandem mass spectrometry methods which will be integrated within an automated lipidome analysis workflow, to enable comprehensive global lipidome profiling and to reveal the structural diversity of lipids involved in fundamental cellular signalling processes.