The Selby Research Award provides funds to assist an outstanding early career academic to establish their research career in chemistry and chemistry-related disciplines.
Chris, a Research Fellow working in the Ultrafast and Microspectroscopy Laboratories at the University of Melbourne, will receive $21,000 for the project ‘Probing drug-target interactions under physiological conditions.’
Chris specialises in using ultrafast electronic and vibrational spectroscopy techniques to resolve excited state processes in semiconductors, proteins and molecular systems.
In this project, he will conduct a preliminary investigation using ultrafast pulses of infrared light to better understand drug-target interactions under physiological conditions, which are difficult to investigate with the methods currently available.
“A lot of the techniques that we use to characterise materials for Exciton Science have applications in other areas of research,” Chris said.
“An area of research that I am interested in outside of advanced molecular materials for excitonic systems is the application of ultrafast vibrational spectroscopy to problems based around determining structure and structural changes in proteins.”
Using the Selby Research Award funds, Chris will employ a femtosecond pulsed laser to selectively excite vibrational modes of a bound drug molecule.
A second laser pulse will be used to detect perturbations in coupled vibrational modes, providing information on drug structure and bonding localised at the binding site.
This will also provide information on ultrafast changes in drug and binding site conformation, giving insight which cannot be obtained with conventional techniques.
“I am deeply grateful to the Selby Scientific Foundation, Exciton Science and the School of Chemistry at the University of Melbourne for supporting my research,” Chris said.
It is hoped the project will provide new information to the pharmaceutical design process to improve the understanding of drug-target interactions before projects proceed to the clinical trial phase.
The ultimate goal is to reduce the overall cost of developing new and effective drugs, and to improve the quality of life of users.
In 2021, Chris was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship to develop new tools to study photochemical systems.
You can read more about Chris’s career and research interests in the 2021 Exciton Science Annual Report.