Researcher

Professor Jonathan Morris

My Expertise

Development of natural products as biomedical agents.

Field of Research (FoR)

SEO tags

Biography

BIOGRAPHY

 

Description

Prof Morris’s research interests are focused on the development of natural products as biomedical agents. Natural products deliver novel leads for pharmaceuticals in a diverse array of therapeutic areas and offer an excellent starting point for medicinal chemistry programs. One of the bottlenecks in the development of natural products is the availability of the compound. Prof Morris’s research programme is focused...view more

BIOGRAPHY

 

Description

Prof Morris’s research interests are focused on the development of natural products as biomedical agents. Natural products deliver novel leads for pharmaceuticals in a diverse array of therapeutic areas and offer an excellent starting point for medicinal chemistry programs. One of the bottlenecks in the development of natural products is the availability of the compound. Prof Morris’s research programme is focused on developing strategies to prepare these valuable materials and generate analogs that have improved potency and selectivity.

Education

  • PhD in Chemistry (The Australian National University, 1994).
  • BSc. (Hons) in Chemistry (University of Western Australia, 1990).

 

RESEARCH

 

My Research Goals

  • restore access to rare, biologically active natural products using total synthesis
  • design and development of small molecules for the inhibition of kinases that regulate alternative splicing
  • use the Diels-Alder reaction to access biologically active scaffolds based on natural products

My Research in Detail

The Morris group uses its expertise in synthetic organic chemistry to access biologically active natural products which are no longer available from their natural source. Once an efficient strategy is developed, investigations into how these molecules interact with biological systems can be initiated. This second phase is generally done in collaboration with biological researchers. During this process, novel materials are designed that have improved potency and selectivity. An illustration of this approach is our work on the total synthesis of variolin B, a rare alkaloid from an Antarctic sponge. Restoring access to this material allowed us to determine it was a potent kinase inhibitor, particularly of the kinases that control the alternative splicing of RNA. Being able to modulate the alternative splicing process can have profound biological impact. Our work on designing more potent analogs has led to the discovery of molecules that can control angiogenesis. These molecules are currently being investigated as an eye drop treatment for aged macular degeneration, in collaboration with Exonate Ltd.

Current Student Projects (PhD and Honours)

Current projects in the Morris group include:

Design and development of inhibitors for kinases that regulate alternative splicing

Application of the Diels-Alder reaction to generate diverse natural product-like chemical libraries

Design of ceramide synthatase inhibitors

Synthesis of naphthylisoquinoline alkaloids using aryl lead triacetates

Total synthesis of coproverdine

Total synthesis of embellistatin

Supervision Opportunities/Areas

I am always open for suggestions from prospective students on projects that fit within our broad research area. Please don’t hesitate to contact me for further advice on possible projects.

Advice for prospective students

It is important to ask questions and find out how past/present students like working in the lab.

 

TEACHING & OUTREACH

Professional affiliations and service positions

Dean of Graduate Research

Fellow of the RACI

Member of ACS

 

AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS

 

2014: UNSW Vice-Chancellor's Award For Teaching Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision

1994: The Dean’s Prize, Research School of Chemistry, The Australian National University

View less

Location

Room 227, Dalton Building, School of Chemistry

Contact

93854733
56141