Research Fellows Directory
Professor Gregory Challis
University of Warwick
Molecules isolated from natural sources, in particular microorganisms, are extremely important in medicine and agriculture. For example, in medicine they are used to treat bacterial and fungal infections, malaria, cancer and high blood cholesterol, as well as to prevent organ transplant rejection. In agriculture, such molecules have important applications in crop protection, for example to prevent damage to crops by insects and fungi, or to control weeds that compete with crops for nutrients and/or sunlight. They are also used to treat a range of diseases in farm animals. Better crop protection chemicals and animal health products are urgently needed to meet the rapidly increasing demand for food resulting from the global population explosion, whereas new antibacterial medicines are needed to tackle the emerging global health crisis caused by antibiotic resistance. However, several important scientific challenges remain to be overcome if the full potential of such natural products to contribute to the health and well-being of modern society is to be realized. My research focuses on several key questions aimed at addressing these challenges, including: what is the best way to discover new natural products with potential applications in medicine and agriculture? How do living microbial cells assemble such complex molecules from structurally simple building blocks? Can we exploit our knowledge of these processes to alter the structures of the molecules produced, such that they perform better in medical and agricultural applications? Can we exploit our knowledge to increase the quantity of the molecules produced by the cells? How do these molecules exert their biological effects on the target organisms? By answering these questions we hope, ultimately, to build a technology platform capable of converting renewable resources into high value chemicals that are able to sustain or even improve the quality of people’s everyday lives.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)