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Dr Sam Thompson MChem (Oxon), PhD (Cantab), SFHEA, MRSC

Lecturer in Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry

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Dr Sam Thompson joined the School of Chemistry at the University of Southampton in October 2016, as a Lecturer in Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry. His main research area is the use of Organic Synthesis to address problems in biology and medicine – especially those related to proteins. He has further interests at the interface or Organic and Materials Chemistry. He is currently supported by a New Investigator Award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Sam Thompson grew up in Lincolnshire and received his MChem from Exeter College, Oxford (2004) spending the final year with Prof. Ben Davis FRS in the historic Dyson Perrins Laboratory. He moved to St Edmund’s College, Cambridge for a PhD (2008) with Dr Martin Smith working on: (i) cascade routes to polycyclic alkaloids; and (ii) enantioselective carbon-carbon bond formation under phase-transfer catalysis. Returning to Oxford in 2009 he did a short medicinal chemistry postdoc sponsored by CRUK with Profs. Steve Davies and Angela Russell aimed at developing small molecule drugs for cancer targets.

Between 2010 and 2016 he held Junior Research Fellowships at Pembroke College and Lady Margaret Hall, and was the team leader for the group of Prof. Andrew Hamilton FRS during his tenure as Vice-Chancellor at Oxford. This work was multidisciplinary – bringing together organic synthesis, supramolecular chemistry, and chemical biology to develop new approaches to mediate therapeutically relevant protein-protein interactions. Sam is also a passionate educator, holding a Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. 

Research interests

The inspiration and motivation for research in the group derives from the exquisite control that Nature exerts over structure and function – at both atomic and macromolecular levels. Unmet challenges in biology and medicine stem from gaps in our understanding of the basic science underlying these processes and a shortage of tools for the interrogation and manipulation of specific interactions.

Proteins constitute a bio-macromolecular class of particular interest due to their essential roles in all life forms, performing myriad structural, catalytic, and signalling functions. They are critically important in numerous disease states including cancer, diabetes, and neurodegeneration. In this context our major long-term goals are to develop a deeper understanding of the structure/function relationships governing therapeutically relevant protein-protein interactions (PPIs) and protein-misfolding conditions, and to develop molecular tools for their manipulation.

In our group organic synthesis and methodology are central tools allied with rigorous structural and conformational assignment by solution- and solid-phase methods (especially NMR and X-ray). Combined with techniques from the fields of supramolecular chemistry, physical organic, and chemical biology this makes for multi-disciplinary projects. We have established collaborations with experts in molecular- and cellular-biology, providing insights into the behaviour of our chemical probes in physiologically relevant settings.

Recent work in our lab has focussed on the rational design of non-peptidic conformationally preorganised scaffolds that mimic key recognition elements of protein surfaces. These peptidomimetics have shown efficacy in mediating therapeutically relevant PPIs and intrinsically disordered proteins, including cancer and type II diabetes. Current work is focused on expanding this molecular toolkit for the recognition, interrogation, and regulation of disparate protein targets, including those implicated in ageing and neurodegeneration such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and prion conditions.

Research group

Chemical Biology, Diagnostics and Therapeutics

Research project(s)

Supramolecular Designs on Dynamic Covalent Protein Recognition

Colloquium convener: Chemical Biology and Organic Chemistry

Undergraduate Projects Coordinator (CHEM3012 and CHEM6090)

Undergraduate Laboratory Working Group

PhD Supervision

Joseph Whetter, Ella Bavinton, Oryn Purewal-Sidhu, Rosie Bannister, Kristof Bolhuis

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Key Publications


Book Chapters


CHEM3012/CHEM6090 Undergraduate Research Projects (Module coordinator)

CHEM3038/6095 Advanced Organic Chemistry (module coordinator)

CHEM6162 Advanced Chemical Biology

Dr Sam Thompson
Chemistry University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 30/4035

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