CCE Postgraduate Research Student Receives Royal Society of Chemistry Mobility Funding
Ross Ballantine, a research student within the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen's, has recently received financial support from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), to support a research visit to the University of Washington.
Ross' work, which focuses on designing synthetic routes to produce antimicrobial peptides which are found in nature, also involves the optimization of these same substances through structure-activity relationship studies. Assisted by research undertaken within the laboratory of an international collaborator, Ross hopes to learn more about the development of novel, highly effective antibiotics, which will help to combat the current, and worsening antibiotic resistance crisis.
Speaking of his work, and his recent mobilty award, Ross added:
"With the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance, it is imperative to design distinctly novel antimicrobial scaffolds coupled with minimised side effects. Peptides allow this by specifically targeting integral bacterial mechanics through finely-tuned protein interactions.
I’m very excited to have the chance to gain experience from a world leader in my field. This is also a great opportunity to visit a highly-regarded North American lab and begin to further my career as a young researcher. The problem of antibiotic resistance is so prevalent today, it is clear to see why this work is important and hopefully this funding will lead to some interesting results."
The award will allow Ross to carry out a one-month internship within the Laboratory of Prof. David Baker at the University of Washington in Seattle, who is regarded as a world leader in computational peptide design. During his visit, Ross will be involved in the design of novel analogues of specific antimicrobial peptides, ultimately returning to Queen’s to synthesize these analogues and test their activity against target bacteria. Ross' work is carried out under the supervision of Dr Stephen Cochrane, Lecturer in Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology within the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.
Dr Cochrane added:
"Computational chemistry is often at the forefront of drug discovery. During his PhD, Ross has developed significant expertise in the synthesis of antimicrobial compounds, as well as in the ability to interrogate their activity and mechanism. This research visit will be advantageous on two fronts - it will allow Ross to rationally predict modifications that will be tolerated by the current class of peptides that he is working on, as well as allow him to learn how to perform this computational chemistry himself from one of the worlds most renowned experts in the area."