Special Issue "Special Issue in Honor of Professor Thomas James Simpson on the Occasion of His 70th Birthday"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2017)
Dr. Thomas Ostenfeld Larsen
Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark, DK-2800. Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
Phone: +45 45252632
Interests: microbial natural products; chemotaxonomy; structure elucidation; characterization of biosynthetic pathways
This Special Issue is dedicated to Prof. Thomas James Simpson (http://www.bris.ac.uk/chemistry/people/tom-j-simpson/index.html), who is currently Professor and Alfred Capper Pass Chair of Chemistry, at the Department of Chemistry, University of Bristol, on the occasion of his 70th birthday (to be celebrated on 23 February, 2017), and in honor of his many achievements in natural product chemistry.
In view of Tom’s substantial contributions to the field of natural product chemistry and in particular his lifelong focus on the biosynthesis of polyketides, it has been decided that it is time to dedicate a Special Issue of Molecules to him. As a younger colleague to Tom, it has been my privilege and great pleasure to meet and learn from his excellent research results and life experiences not only at conferences, but also when he has kindly accepted to be the international examiner of several PhD theses at the Technical University of Denmark. It is clear that Tom has influenced innumerable researchers in the field over the decades of his academic career, many of whom, I hope, may contribute to this Special Issue.
Tom was born in Dollar, Clackmannanshire, in Scotland in 1947, and started his carrier in Chemistry at University of Edinburgh, where he obtained his B.Sc. with first class honors in 1969. Thereafter, he moved to Bristol for his graduate research for four years, and it was there that his lifelong interest in fungal metabolites began. This included among others studying the structure of the triterpene wortmannin and heptaketide pigments such as xanthomegnin, leading to a PhD degree in 1973. Before coming back to University of Edinburgh in 1978 to take up a position as a Lecturer at Department of Chemistry, Tom was a Research Fellow at both University of Liverpool, and the Australian National University. The stay at Liverpool with Stan Holker especially taught Tom the importance of 13C labelling studies for structural and biosynthetic pathway elucidation of polyketides such as shamixanthone. Tom only stayed for two years in Edinburgh, before being promoted to full Professor at University of Leicester in 1978, where he however only stayed for two years, before going back to University of Bristol, where he has been pursuing his academic carrier ever since.
At University of Bristol Tom has been instrumental in creating a strong cross disciplinary research environment stimulating research at the interphase between molecular biology and chemistry, especially in collaboration with Reader Colin M. Lazarus, Prof. Chris Willis and later Prof. Russell Cox. During the last two decades, the Bristol Group has obtained many excellent research results, among others using PCR-primer based probes for isolation of genes encoding fungal polyketide synthases contributing to the classification of these enzymes into what we now understand as non-reducing (NR), partially and highly reducing (HR) PKSs respectively. Later, the Bristol group also isolated, expressed and swapped domains in HR-PKSs in order to increase our understanding of how programming of these enzymes are controlled at the molecular and mechanistic level. Another more recent highlight of the Bristol group has been the elucidation of the biosynthesis of the seven-membered ring structured tropolones, a challenge that had puzzled the scientific community for decades.
Tom’s over 26 years of Professorship have, not only been very successful and productive (over 230 original papers and related reviews). He has also been truly dedicated to teaching in Chemistry at all levels, including the examination of more than 100 PhD, MSc, DSc and Habilitation theses in UK and abroad in numerous countries. During his career Tom has received several awards for his many contributions to science and teaching, including being elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001 and fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2006, just to mention a few.
On behalf of your many former colleagues, students and collaborators, I am honored to dedicate this Special Issue to you, Tom, and I really hope that you will enjoy it.
Prof. Dr. Thomas Ostenfeld Larsen
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