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Fellows Directory

Colin Reese

Credit: Godfrey Argent Studio

Professor Colin Reese FRS


Elected: 1981


Colin Reese is well known for his numerous contributions to the chemistry of nucleosides, nucleotides and nucleic acids. He has devised ingenious methods for the specific acylation of nucleosides and for the protection of functional groups in them.

He solved the problem of protecting internucleotide phosphodiester linkages, and brought to reality the phosphotriester approach to the chemical synthesis of DNA and RNA sequences. This also involved the development of new phosphorylation methods and protecting groups with specific properties. Other contributions to nucleotide chemistry comprise studies involving the alkylation of nucleic acids, and the conversion of ribonucleosides into 2’-deoxynucleosides and modified nucleosides, including some of the modified nucleosides of transfer ribonucleic acids.

Colin has also made significant discoveries in other areas of organic chemistry, for example the discovery of the photo-Fries reaction, the synthesis of strained medium ring trans-cycloalkenes and cycloalkynes, and the introduction of the use of hindered arenesulphonyl hydrazides in synthesis. He has also made important contributions to the synthesis of naturally occurring phosphorylated inositol derivatives, which can act as biological second messengers.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


chemistry of nucleic acids