Self and directed assembly: people and molecules

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Self-assembly and directed-assembly are two very important aspects of supramolecular chemistry. As a young postgraduate student working in Canada with Tom Fyles my introduction to Supramolecular Chemistry was through the self-assembly of phospholipid membranes to form vesicles for which we were developing unimolecular and self-assembling transporter molecules. The next stage of my development as a scientist was in Japan with Seiji Shinkai where in a "Eureka" moment, the boronic acid templating unit (directed-assembly) of Wulff was combined with photoinduced electron transfer systems pioneered by De Silva. The result was a turn-on fluorescence sensor for saccharides; this simple result has continued to fuel my research to the present day. Throughout my career as well as assembling molecules, I have enjoyed bringing together researchers in order to develop collaborative networks. This is where molecules meet people resulting in assemblies worth more than the individual "molecule" or "researcher". My role in developing networks with Japan was rewarded by the award of a Daiwa-Adrian Prize in 2013 and I was recently rewarded for developing networks with China with an Inaugural CASE Prize in 2015.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-405
Number of pages15
JournalBeilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Boronic acids
  • Fluorescence
  • Glucose sensor
  • Self and directed assembly
  • Supramolecular


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