John Robinson studied chemistry at University College, London, where he was awarded the B.Sc. degree in 1974. He completed his Ph.D. at Cambridge University in 1977, under the supervision of Professor A. R. Battersby. With a Royal Society Postdoctoral Fellowship, he subsequently carried out postdoctoral work in the Biochemistry Institute of the University of Karlsruhe, before joining the Chemistry Department of Southampton University, UK in 1979 as a lecturer. In 1987, he became senior lecturer, and was awarded the Hickinbottom Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He moved to Zurich as Full Professor of Organic Chemistry in 1989.
There are two main research areas within the group, one concerned with the synthesis and biological activity of protein epitope mimetics (PEMs), and the other with the study of antibiotic biosynthesis, in particular, the glycopeptide antibiotic vancomycin. This research falls within the broad area of chemical biology/biological chemistry. Most of our research is concerned with the synthesis of biologically active molecules, and studies of their interactions with proteins. The work, therefore, draws upon the methods of chemistry, as well as of biochemistry, biophysics and biology.
The topics currently under investigation include:
♦ Synthesis of novel peptidomimetics
♦ The design of protein-protein interaction inhibitors
♦ Mode of action studies on new antibiotics
♦ Inhibitors of protein-RNA interactions
♦ Synthetic vaccines using PEMs and synthetic virus-like particles
♦ Mechanistic studies of P450 enzymes in vancomycin biosynthesis
♦ The non-ribosomal peptide synthetases in vancomycin biosynthesis
The research interests of the group lie in the area of biological chemistry, in particular, the mechanisms of biological molecular recognition; the design of peptide and protein mimetics; synthetic vaccine design; and the study of enzymes involved in antibiotic biosynthesis.