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Peter Quayle, a native of Runcorn, was educated at Helsby Grammar School and gained an Open Scholarship to read chemistry at Imperial College, London. After graduating he remained at Imperial to carry out research in Tony Barrett's group on a project concerned with the use of "ynolates" in β-lactam synthesis. On completion of his PhD he was awarded an SERC-NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship to work in Barry Trost's group, then resident in Madison Wisconsin, where he developed various aspects of organopalladium chemistry. On returning to the UK he took up a post as Senior Research Chemist at Glaxo in the migraine team which discovered sumatriptan.' After two years at Glaxo he moved briefly to the University of Leeds and then, in 1986, to the University of Manchester. Varied lines of research have been investigated whilst at Manchester including the use of transition metal carbene complexes and organostannanes in synthesis, the synthesis of hydrophilic polymers, and the development of "clean oxidation" processes using hydrogen peroxide. Recent interests include the development of more efficient catalysts for atom transfer reactions and their use in natural product synthesis.


BSc, ARCS, PhD, DIC (London)

Research interests


Synthetic Methodology

Atom Transfer Reactions

Asymmetric Synthesis

Polymer Chemistry

Several areas of research are currently being actively pursued, although underlying themes are concerned with the development of new synthetic methodology for natural product and polymer synthesis. Many of these topics are in some way concerned with aspects of organometallic or co-ordination chemistry. For example, we have recently developed a high yielding general method for the reduction of functionalised vinyl stannanes. The products of these reductions undergo facile transmetallation to afford configurationally stable carbanions which have been utilised in the stereoselective synthesis of a variety of terahydrofurans, a motif which is common to a number of natural products. Extension of this methodology has led to the development of a highly stereoselective synthesis of densely functionalised cyclopropanes, which again are representative of a class of compounds present in a range of pharmacologically active compounds (e.g. antifungal agents, pesticides).
Our interest in polymer synthesis has resulted in the identification of a highly efficient catalyst system for Atom Transfer Radical Polymerisation reactions which is currently being exploited by the Polymer Chemistry Section. On the "monomer front" we have also developed a variety of copper catalysts which effect efficient atom transfer cyclisation reaction leading to lactone- and lactam- containing systems which are themselves useful synthetic intermediates. A "tandem" cyclisation reaction (a sequence which is complementary to the Diels - Alder reaction) has also been developed using this chemistry which generates bi-cyclic lactones from acyclic precursors. This chemistry may find application in the synthesis of a number of antitumour agents. During these investigations we have also developed a new concept, that of Catalyst Economy, in which a single catalysts can be utilised in multiple C-C bond-forming reactions.
The chemistry of Group 6 carbene complexes has been extensively utilised in our group over the years, a theme which is continuing in an approach to poly-THF containing acetogenins and aflatoxin β2, whilst palladium chemistry has been utilised in the synthesis of the spiroketal portion of milbemycin β3.
The development of clean reactions is the focus of much research a theme which we have also become interested in. Recent research in our group has shown that high valent metal oxides can efficiently epoxidise olefins in aqueous media using hydrogen peroxide as a re-oxidant. Application of this methodology to carbohydrate chemistry has led to the development of a new method for the synthesis of glycosides, with the possibility that this chemistry could find application to the synthesis of oligosaccharides in a aqueous media. We have also recently discovered a new benzannulation reaction starting from readily available precursors; current efforts are now directed towards synthetic applications in the area of C-glycosides. 
Collaboration with the inorganic section is centred on the development of novel ligands for the selective complexation of lanthanides/actinides whilst aldolase mimics based on crown ethers are currently being investigated in collaboration with the physical organic section.

My group


Astra-Zeneca Fully Funded PhD Studentship (start date: October 2008)

We have recently been awarded a PhD studentship (funded by Astra-Zeneca) in the area of organic synthesis. The candidate should have at least a 2i in Chemistry and have an interest in the development and application of new synthetic methodogy to natural product synthesis.  

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water


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