Dr Ralph Adams

Senior Research Fellow

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Overview

My research concerns the development of novel techniques in high resolution NMR spectroscopy, and their application to problems in chemistry, biochemistry, and medicine. In many cases this work leads to new pulse sequences and software tools.

NMR is uniquely flexible, allowing great scope for ingenuity in modifying experiments to increase the amount of chemical information available from spectra. Multidimensional NMR methods can allow detailed structure determination for molecules as large as proteins, while recent advances in technique and instrumentation allow the non-invasive measurement of localised proton spectra of metabolites in human beings. Despite fifty years of development in both spectrometer hardware and experimental techniques, the pace of change shows no sign of slackening: NMR methods continue both to expand their range of application and to improve the ease with which they can be used to probe chemical, biochemical and biological structures.

Among current and recent projects in my research are work on ultra-selective methods (GEMSTONE)  diffusion-ordered spectroscopy (DOSY) and matrix assisted DOSY (MAD), implementing homonuclear decoupling / pure shift methods, para-hydrogen derived signal enhancement (SABRE), and reaction monitoring methodology.

I collabrate with researchers from across the natural sciences to apply the benefits of NMR spectroscopy to their scientific challenges. 

Biography

I studied Chemistry at the University of York, completing the 4 year MChem course in 2005 which included a final year working in Analytical Methods Development in the R&D division of GlaxoSmithKline (Stevenage). The final year project, based on isomer separation in the synthetic route to Lapatinib, was supervised by Dr. Darsha Hindocha (GSK) and Prof. David Goodall (York).

I stayed in York to work towards a Ph.D in the research group of Prof. Simon Duckett in the Department of Chemistry and Prof. Gary Green at York Neuroimaging Centre (YNiC). My research centred around applications of hyperpolarisation with magnetic resonance imaging and I submitted my thesis in 2009. (BBSRC CASE Award BBS/S/D/2005/13210 funded by YNiC and training grant BB/B511894/1). I was then subsequently appointed for 6 months and then a year on grants from Yorkshire Forward and Bruker respectively. These roles worked towards exploitation of the SABRE method, which was developed during my Ph.D, for hyperpolarised MRI applications and high field NMR measurements.

I moved to Manchester at the end of 2010 to take up a post-doctoral research associate position working on Matrix Assisted Diffusion-ordered spectroscopy (MAD), supervised by Dr. Mathias Nilsson and Prof. Gareth Morris. This project was an EPSRC project funded for three years (EPSRC Grant Number EP/H024336/1). At the end of the MAD project I stayed in the NMR methodology group, developing pure shift NMR methods as an EPSRC funded post doctoral researcher co-invesigator (EPSRC Grant Number EP/L018500/1).

At the start of 2015 I was appointed as a Research Fellow and Head of NMR Spectroscopy, then promoted to Senior Research Fellow in 2021. In this role I am responsible for the NMR instrumentation, facility operation, research support, and service delivery in the Department of Chemistry. I also supervise graduate and undergraduate research projects in the NMR Methodology Group.

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