Tom Simpson's Brief CV

Curriculum Vitae




Place and date of Birth:        Dollar, Clackmannanshire, Scotland.  23rd February, 1947.


Degrees:         (1)        B.Sc. (1st Class Honours), Chemistry, Edinburgh 1969.

                        (2)        Ph.D. Bristol, 1973.

                        (3)        D.Sc. Edinburgh, 1986.


Awards:         (1)        Macfarlan-Smith Prize (University of Edinburgh), 1969.

                        (2)        Corday-Morgan Medal and Prize (Royal Society of Chemistry), 1984.

                        (3)        Tilden Lectureship (Royal Society of Chemistry), 2001-2002.

                        (4)        Simonsen Lectureship (Royal Society of Chemistry), 2002-2003.

                        (5)        Hugo Muller Lectureship (Royal Society of Chemistry), 2004-2005.

                        (6)        Microbial Chemistry Medal, Kitasato Institute, Tokyo, 2005.

                        (7)        Natural Products Chemistry Medal (Royal Society of Chemistry). 2008.

                        (8)        Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, 2001.

                        (9)        Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2006


Career:           (1)        1973-1974       Senior University Demonstrator, Department of Organic Chemistry, University of Liverpool.

 (2)        1974-1976       Research Fellow, Research School of Chemistry,

Australian National University.

(3)        1977-1978       SERC Research Fellow, Department of Organic Chemistry,

University of Liverpool.

(4)        1978-1988       Lecturer, Department of Chemistry,

University of Edinburgh.

(5)        1988-1989       Professor of Organic Chemistry, Department of Chemistry,

University of Leicester.

(6)       1990-present    Professor of Organic Chemistry, Head of Organic and Biological Chemistry, University of Bristol.

(7)        2006-present   Alfred Capper Pass Chair of Chemistry, University of Bristol


Research Interests:    Chemistry of antibiotics, mycotoxins and metabolites of microbial and plant origin.

Application of stable isotope labelling, enzymatic and genetic methodology to biosynthetic studies on the polyketide and terpenoid pathways. Cell-free enzyme studies of metabolic processes.Synthesis of biologically active molecules.

Structural and biochemical characterisation of biosynthetic enzymes.

Publications:              195 Original papers and related review articles.


Selected Research highlights

1.      Type II bacterial polyketide synthase (PKS) proteins. This biosynthetic pathways produces several important polycyclic aromatic antibiotics and anti-tumour agents, e.g. tetracyclines and adriamycin/doxorubicin. In work initiated via a BBSRC-funded collaboration with Sir David Hopwood FRS at the John Innes Centre, we showed that the acyl carrier  proteins (ACPs), previously assumed to have a passive role, had unsuspected enzyme activities in their own right, being capable of both self-catalysed malonylation and acting as malonyl transferases. Another component was shown to decarboxylate the resulting malonylated ACP to produce the acetyl-ACP essential for initiating biosynthesis.  Our NMR solution structure of the ACP (1996) was the first 3D structure of any PKS component. Overall this work overturned established and controversial dogmas in the field. 


2.      In GSK-funded work we isolated and characterised the PKS gene involved in the biosynthesis of the potent cholesterol lowering agent, squalestatin. Although, this fungal product was not subsequently developed for clinical use, this study initiated and led to our world-leading position in studies of these highly complex fungal proteins now known to be associated with the biosynthesis of other important  drugs such as lovastatin.

3.      In collaboration with Marlow Foods we isolated and characterised the biosynthetic gene cluster associated with the mycotoxin, fusarin C, from Fusarium venenatum, the organism used for production of the mycoprotein used in Quorn-derived foodstuffs. Using this we were able to demonstrate that the commercially important strain not only did not produce the toxin but importantly lacked the genetic potential to do so.

4.      In an ongoing BBSRC-funded collaboration with Chris Thomas (Biosciences, Birmingham) we have isolated and sequenced the biosynthetic gene cluster for the clinically important antibiotic, mupirocin. Detailed studies of the mechanisms of biosynthesis and targeted manipulations of the gene cluster are resulting in production of new biologically active agents and altering the titres of the major components of the mupirocin complex. This work was featured in the BBSRC 2008 brochure “Bioscience behind tackling superbugs”. 

We have recently extended these studies to the closely related thiomarinol group of antibiotics in collaboration with the Japanese pharmaceutical company, Daiichi Sankyo, using rapid genome sequencing methods to expedite access to and analysis of the biosynthetic gene cluster.


Selected International Recognition

      Bioorganic Chemistry) series of meetings (2004-present).


National – inter alia:

Contributions to Royal Society

Contributions to Royal Society of Chemistry – inter alia:

·         Editorial Board Chairman, Natural Product Reports, 1992-2002.

·         Perkin Council (1989-96), (Vice President, 1993-5).

·         Perkin Division Standing Committee on Meetings (Member 1989-93, Chairman 1993-96).

·         Editorial Board, Chemistry in Britain, 1994-2001.

·         Journals Committee, 1998-2002.

·         These contributions were recognised by a RSC Long Service Award in 2002.