We are broadly interested in the chemistry of matter, and our specific interests can be classified into three areas; the synthesis of new molecules, the structural characterisation of molecules, and the reactivity of new and existing molecules, with the molecules in question being organic, inorganic and biological in nature. The synthesis of new molecules involves careful design to incorporate desirable features into the molecules. The structural characterisation of molecules tells us about the arrangement of atoms in molecules on a nanometre scale, and we can use these data, in addition to kinetic data, to help explain the reactivity of molecules.
We engage in research across a broad spectrum of biomedical and health-related science. This includes understanding the epidemiology of infectious disease, development of novel diagnostic methodologies in biomedical laboratory science, resolving the environmental drivers of human health depreciation, and the discovery and evaluation of novel bioactive compounds.
Staff research interests include:
Bioinorganic and Medicinal Chemistry
We carry out mechanistic studies on the reactions of vitamin B12 with small molecules of biological relevance. This enables us to develop vitamin B12 conjugates with broad applications in biology and medicine, such as developing photoactive HNO donors.
Environmental and Food Chemistry
This group has a broad interest in environmental analysis and remediation. We have a particular focus on the composition of estuarine sediments and the remediation of contaminated soils using reactive ball milling. We are also interested in the composition of foods and the relationships between composition, nutritional value, appearance, taste and texture.
John Robertson Kay Vopel Owen Young
We are interested in the preparation of chemical compounds, which contain transition metals. We determine their structure on the atomic scale using techniques such as NMR and X-ray crystallography. We then study the reactivity of these compounds towards a variety of molecules, and relate this reactivity back to particular structural features of the compounds. This allows us to design better catalysts for a variety of biological and industrial processes.
The main focus of this research group is on nutraceuticals from marine natural products. Extracts and compounds found in seaweeds, shellfish and other marine organisms are evaluated for potential health benefits. These include anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, anti-bacterial and anti-cardiovascular disease properties. The team has enjoyed considerable recent success, including a fucoidan-based nutraceutical that is currently under commercialisation.
We work in collaboration with Roche, New Zealand Blood Service and Waitemata Health Board on a variety of transfusion research projects. We use this research to inform our students who are highly regarded in the industry.
Infectious Diseases and Immunology
Microbiology, immunology and diagnostics of leptospirosis and other infectious diseases caused by various pathogens (HIV, Campylobacter
, HACEK). Leptospirosis is a neglected tropical zoonosis caused by pathogenic spirochetes of the genus Leptospira
, with a high incidence in developing countries and sometimes considered as emerging. This zoonosis is characterized by multiple organ failure and variable host susceptibility toward pathogenic Leptospira
strains. Our goal is to provide a better understanding of the pathophysiology of leptospirosis and the immune response of the host using modern molecular techniques.
This research group has a wide interest in developing various drug/bioactive delivery systems including micro- and nano-encapsulated systems, 3D printed scaffolds and implantable devices. Some of the formulation techniques we use include: 3D printing, nano- and micro-emulsion, spray drying and polymer extrusion.