Mr Grant Simpson (2017)
I graduated from the University of Florida with highest honours and the equivalent of class valedictorian. There, I completed my B.S. degree double majoring in Chemistry; and Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience; and minoring in Philosophy. My previous research involvements have varied widely, ranging from healthcare disparities to behavioral neuroscience to stem cell biology to synthetic chemistry and pharmacology. I ultimately gravitated towards chemistry because I saw the unique power chemists possess to develop novel therapies and therefore profoundly improve an indefinite number of lives. Under the auspices of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, I will be reading for an MPhil in Chemistry at Christ’s College, working in the Gonçalo Bernardes research group with the aim of developing new, more selective cancer therapeutics. In this project, we have chosen a bold and innovative approach of using quadruple helical DNA structures as platforms to hold both cancer-targeting antibodies and cancer-cell-killing drugs. Further, I will develop synthetic methods to chemically link these different classes of biomolecules (i.e., DNA and protein). With these novel and beautiful structures, we hope to circumvent the poor efficacy and terrible side effects of current, standard-of-care chemotherapy and increase the therapeutic utility of first generation antibody-drug conjugates, with the ultimate goal improving human life and patient outcomes.