Matthew Fuchter

2020 United Kingdom Award Finalist — Faculty

Matthew Fuchter

Current Position:
Professor of Chemistry

Imperial College London

Organic Chemistry

Recognized for: The synthesis and study of novel functional systems for use in a range of applications from novel electronic materials to therapeutic agents

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Medicinal Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Materials Chemistry, Photochemistry, Chirality

Previous Positions:

MSci, University of Bristol
PhD, Imperial College London (Advisor: Prof. Tony Barrett)
Postdoc, Imperial College London (Advisor: Prof. Tony Barrett)
Postdoc, University of Melbourne/CSIRO, Australia (Advisor: Prof. Andrew Holmes)
Research Councils UK Fellow, School of Pharmacy, University of London

Research Summary:

Matthew Fuchter, PhD, has made major advances in two seemingly disparate sub-disciplines of organic chemistry, both of which are rooted in the notion that understanding of molecular structure, properties, and interactions drives innovation—even relatively subtle aspects of a molecule’s shape can be exploited to invent new approaches for a range of applications. A key example from Fuchter’s work is chirality. Chirality emerges from when a particular shape—be it an object smaller than an atom or as large as a building—exists as a pair of mirror images that cannot be superimposed upon one another. A common example of a chiral object is the human hand. Left and right hands are mirror images of each other, but no matter how they are oriented, it is impossible for the left and right hand to perfectly overlap with each other. Molecules can also be chiral, and using one mirror image form (one “handedness”) over the other has been exploited historically in a variety of areas, most notably, in biologically active molecules (drugs, fragrances, agrochemicals, etc.). Fuchter has demonstrated that by controlling molecular chirality within materials, one can radically change the functionality of the material, for example altering its optical and electronic properties.

Molecular structure also plays an important role in the design of small molecule therapeutics. All biological macromolecules—which form the “targets” for small molecule drugs—have complex three-dimensional shapes that play a crucial role in their function. The design of small molecule inhibitors or drugs must, therefore, take into account the subtle variations in shape that define how drugs interact with biological molecules. Fuchter has maintained a robust medicinal chemistry team that has successfully used their knowledge of these interactions to develop new therapeutic strategies for a range of diseases, and has progressed a first-in-class small molecule into the clinic for the treatment of cancer.

"I am both delighted and humbled to have been selected as a Chemistry Finalist for the 2020 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the United Kingdom. I would like to thank all my co-workers and collaborators whose vital contributions underpin our work and hope we can continue to translate our scientific discoveries for the benefit of society."

Key Publications:

  1. J. Calbo, C.E. Weston, A.J.P. White, H.S. Rzepa, J. Contreras-García, M.J. Fuchter. Tuning Azoheteroarene Photoswitch Performance through Heteroaryl Design. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2017.
  2. J.R. Brandt, X. Wang, Y. Yang, A.J. Campbell, M.J. Fuchter. Circularly Polarized Phosphorescent Electroluminescence with a High Dissymmetry Factor from FHOLEDs Based on a Platinahelicene. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2016.
  3. Y. Yang, R. Correa da Costa, M.J. Fuchter, A.J. Campbell. Circularly Polarized Light Detection by a Chiral Organic Semiconductor Transistor. Nature Photonics, 2013.
  4. N.A. Malmquist, T.A. Moss, S. Mecheri, A. Scherf, M.J. Fuchter. Small-molecule Histone Methyltransferase Inhibitors Display Rapid Antimalarial Activity Against All Blood Stage Forms in Plasmodium falciparum. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012.

Other Honors:

2018Tetrahedron Prize Young Investigator Award for Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry
2017Imperial College President’s Medal for Excellence in Research Innovation and Entrepreneurship
2015Thieme Chemistry Journal Award
2014Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry
2014Harrison-Meldola Memorial Prize, Royal Society of Chemistry


In the Media:

Imperial College London New Technique Could Brighten Screens and Make Smartphone Batteries Last Longer

Imperial College London New Class of Drugs Could Help Tackle Treatment-resistant Cancers

Chemistry World Drugging the Epigenome