Professor Antony Fairbanks
Head of Department
Innovation Champion for Chemistry
BA MA D.Phil (Oxon)
Field of Study
Organic Synthesis, Carbohydrate Chemistry, Chemical Biology
Telephone: +64 3 364 3097
Fax: +64 3 364 2110
Research Interests and Publications
Antony took a BA in Chemistry at Oxford, UK, followed by a D.Phil. with George Fleet at Oxford which he completed in 1993. He was then awarded a Royal Society European Exchange Fellowship and undertook a Postdoc with Pierre Sinaÿ at the Ecole Normale Superieure (ENS) in Paris, before returning to the UK to take up a Junior Research Fellowship at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge to work with Professor Steve Ley. At the end of 1996 he returned to Oxford as a University Lecturer and also as Tutorial Fellow of Jesus College. During his time there he received the 2004 Royal Society of Chemistry Carbohydrate Chemistry Award, and in 2006 he received a Teaching Award from Oxford University. In 2002 he co-founded a spin-out company, Glycoform, based on commercialisation of his research. He visited the Chemistry Department at Canterbury in 2006 as a Visiting Oxford Fellow as part of the Oxford-Canterbury Exchange Scheme (Erskine program), and joined the Department as an Associate Professor in January 2009.
General Area of Research
The main focus of our research continues to lie in the field of synthesis. Sugars, and in particular oligosaccharides, play key roles in a plethora of biological processes and chemical synthesis allows us make molecules that will either enable us to increase our understanding of these processes, or perhaps even more importantly enable us to interfere with undesired processes. So, as Organic Chemists, we are not only interested in synthesis for its own sake, but also in the potential that our efforts can have in the fields of Glycoscience and Medicine, be it by accessing biologically important carbohydrates, or by the synthesis of mimics of sugars as therapeutic agents. As well as mainstream synthesis we are also interested in synthetic access to proteins that bear particular defined carbohydrate structures: structurally defined glycoproteins, and we have recently expanded our expertise into the field of molecular biology in order to develop more efficient biocatalysts to achieve this aim. This research interest led to the launch of a University spinout company, Glycoform (http://www.glycoform.co.uk) in 2002.
The group has developed particular expertise in oligosaccharide synthesis and we are continually attempting to develop more efficient glycosylation methodology, by methods such as intramolecular aglycon delivery (IAD). We are also interested in the development of new approaches for the synthesis of a range of glycomimetics for therapeutic use, including (but not limited to) C-glycosides, C-glycopeptides and C-disaccharides. As alluded to above we are also currently developing carbohydrate-processing enzymes as biocatalysts for the production of homogeneous glycosylated peptides, proteins and anti-bodies. Finally we continue to be interested in the total synthesis of biologically important natural product using sugars as starting materials.
Specific Research project Areas
- Stereochemical control of glycosylation: use of intramolecular glycosylation techniques (e.g. propargyl IAD), and the development of new alcohol protecting groups to control anomeric stereochemistry by novel sorts of neighbouring group participation.
- Development of new anti-tuberculosis agents: synthesis of arabinose derivatives as potential inhibitors of mycobacterial cell wall biosynthesis.
- Synthesis of N-glycan oligosaccharides. Synthesis of large oligosaccharide structures for use in enzymatically controlled glycosylation of peptides and proteins.
- Molecular enzymology: site directed mutagenisis of endohexosaminidase enzymes as catalysts to produce ‘glycosynthases' for glycoprotein/peptide and anti-body remodelling.
- Synthesis of modified carbohydrates as potential chain terminators of polysaccharide biosynthesis; novel, non-toxic, carbohydrate herbicides and fungicides.
- Synthesis and screening of modified sugar di-nucleotides as potential glycosyl transferase inhibitors.
- Synthesis of oligosaccharides and oligosaccharide mimetics as tools for Glycobiology.