University of Otago, New Zealand


Te Tari Hua-Ruanuku

Dr Bill Hawkins

contact photo
Dr Bill Hawkins
Organic Chemistry
Tel: (03) 471 6217
Location: Science II, 2n8

Research Interests

Our research focuses on the synthesis of natural products which possess significant biological activity, with an emphasis on, but not limited to, anti-cancer activity. Ideally these targets are of moderate complexity and their mode of action not well-understood. This scenario provides the opportunity for our research group (and collaborators) to contribute in several ways. 

Once a target is chosen, it is approached from two perspectives; namely a medicinal chemistry point of view where simplified analogues will be synthesised and tested, and an organic chemistry focus where the challenge of developing an efficient synthesis is the primary focus. This work could also include the development of synthetic methodology to allow for rapid access to the structure type, should the literature not already provide this. Once compounds have been synthesised our collaborators will examine their biological activity, in detail, to ascertain their selectivity and potency against a variety of cell lines. Using this iterative process detailed structure activity relationships should be unveiled. Information on where structural modifications are tolerated will be particularly sort to allow for tagging of the molecule to tease out the site and mode of action of the molecule(s). We believe that using chemical entities as biological tools to probe cellular processes and consequently increase our understanding of disease processes should help immeasurably in the rational design of drugs.

Current Targets

Current Group Members

PhD Students: Richard Lamb, Alex Craig, Sinan Gai, Brooke Swaney, Robert Smith

Honours and Masters Students: Michael Badart (Hons), Mitch Clark (MSc)

Chem390: Oliver Pooke

Visiting Students: Jacob Bestwick (Southampton, UK), Leah Salituro (ConnColl, USA)

Group photo July 2016

Hawkins Group 2016

International Collaborators

National Collaborators

Selected Publications

Interested in Joining the Group?

Prospective postgraduate students are encouraged to contact Bill directly.