Queen Mary, University of London


Wednesday 20th January 2010


  • 5-5.20pm: "Molecular Machines in Synthesis" By Dr Stephen Goldup

  • 5.20-5.30pm: Discussion

  • 5.30-5.50pm: "Inconsistency in the peer-reviewed literature: validity of published data" by Prof Stephen Bustin
  • 5.50-6pm: Discussion

  • 6-7pm: Refreshments


Dr Stephen Goldup, Early Career Research Fellow, Biological and Chemical Sciences.

As scientists skilled in the art of constructing molecules accurately and elegantly, organic chemists are ideally placed to help answer the challenge issued by Richard Feynman when he said that there's "plenty of room at the bottom". By designing and studying molecular machines it is hoped that mankind can take advantage of such devices to carry out tasks that are either difficult or impossible to achieve in other ways. In this we are taking our cue from Nature: natural molecular machines carry out most of the work of life from the very simple such as enzymes which switch on and off in response to external stimuli to molecular motors which move whole bacteria.

In our group we carry out research aimed at producing synthetic molecular machines with a view to applying them to the synthesis of complex molecules and materials which are inaccessible by other means. More generally we carry out fundamental investigations of the properties of reactions and interactions (including electronic, photochemical and magnetic interactions) confined to the restricted dimensions of interlocked architectures. Such devices have implications for molecular photonics, photosynthetic, electronic, magnetic, multiferroic and other smart materials.

Email: s.m.goldup@qmul.ac.uk

Prof Stephen Bustin, Professor of Molecular Science, Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science

Stephen Bustin obtained his PhD from Trinity College, University of Dublin in molecular genetics in 1983. He carried out post-doctoral  research at the Animal Virus Research Institute in Pirbright before his interest in biotechnology led him to join Corporate Research, Amersham International, as a senior research scientist, eventually becoming research manager, gene expression. His main achievements were  producing a synthethic HRP gene, generating humanised antibodies, cloning a HIV-1 strain and inventing a lyophilized reagent system for DNA sequencing. He joined the London Hospital Medical College as a senior research fellow, aiming to apply his research in a more direct, practical setting. Following promotion to Senior Lecturer (1995) and Reader in Molecular Medicine (2002) he was awarded a personal chair by the University of London in 2004.

Abstract for talk : 

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has matured from a labour- and time-intensive, low throughput qualitative gel-based technique to an easily automated, rapid, high throughput quantitative technology. Real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) has become the benchmark technology for the detection and quantification of nucleic acids in a research, diagnostic, forensic and biotechnology setting.  However, ill-assorted pre-assay conditions, poor assay design and inappropriate data analysis methodologies have resulted in the recurrent publication of data that are at best inconsistent and at worst irrelevant and even misleading. Furthermore, there is an lamentable lack of transparency of reporting, with the “Materials and Methods” sections of many publications, especially those with high impact factors, not fit for the purpose of evaluating the quality of any reported qPCR data.  This poses a challenge to the integrity of the scientific literature, with serious consequences not just for basic research, but potentially calamitous implications for drug development and disease monitoring. We are leading an initiative that is addressing these issues through a set of guidelines that propose a minimum standard for the provision of information for qPCR experiments (“MIQE”). MIQE aims to restructure to-day’s free-for-all qPCR methods into a more consistent format that will encourage detailed auditing of experimental detail, data analysis and reporting principles. General implementation of these guidelines is an important requisite for the maturing of qPCR into a robust, accurate and reliable nucleic acid quantification technology.

Email: s.a.bustin@qmul.ac.uk