Dr David Fulton
Senior Lecturer

Qualifications

PhD University of California, Los Angeles, 2001
BSc (Hons) University of Strathclyde, 1996

Previous Positions

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Durham University, 2003-2005
Analytical Method Development Chemist, Quintiles Ltd, 2002
Process Development Chemist, Merck Ltd, 1994-1995

Research Interests

Fulton Research Group Webpages

Fulton Research Summary

Dr David Fulton has interests in polymer and supramolecular chemistry. His research is focused on the development of responsive and adaptable macromolecular assemblies with potential application in molecular recognition and sensing, catalysis, medicine and materials science. All work relies strongly on organic synthesis, NMR, LC-mass spectrometry and HPLC/GPC. Projects have received support from EPSRC, The Royal Society, The EU-framework 7 program, The Nuffield Foundation and Newcastle University.

Current Work

Polymer-Scaffolded Dynamic Combinatorial Libraries: Can wholly synthetic macromolecules mimic the molecular recognition and catalytic properties of natural proteins? To address this challenge, we are applying ideas from the field of dynamic combinatorial chemistry with the aim of developing a simple and rapid method to do just this. We are developing libraries of macromolecules which have the potential to ‘reconfigure’ their structures in response to the addition of templates. These libraries—which we have termed polymer-scaffolded dynamic combinatorial libraries—represent a conceptually new class of dynamic combinatorial library, and are ideally suited to the discovery of synthetic protein mimics.

Dynamic Covalent Polymer-Based Nanostructures: Block copolymers are building blocks for a large variety of important self-assembled nanoscale objects in solution such as micelles and vesicles. In the drive towards the development of new “smart” polymer-based systems possessing responsive and adaptable properties, chemists have incorporated dynamic and reversible supramolecular interactions such as H-bonding, metal ligand interactions or a combination of both to link polymer blocks together. In addition to facilitating the self-assembly of polymer blocks into block copolymers, suparamolcular interactions can impart dynamic behaviours into the resultant block copolymer assemblies which are transmitted/incorporated into supramolecular aggregates formed from the block copolymer components. We have started to use ideas from the field of dynamic covalent chemistry (DCC) to develop new advanced materials with responsive and adaptive properties.

Polymer Micelles for the Delivery of siRNA: Short interfering RNA (siRNA) are short double strands of RNA which can silence specific genes involved in disease, and thus hold great promise in the treatment of a range of conditions. A major obstacle to siRNA in the clinic is the challenge of delivering siRNA molecules in vivo as they are rapidly cleared from the body or degraded. In addition to protecting siRNA from the harsh in vivo environment, a suitable delivery system must also be able to target siRNA molecules to the correct cells, facilitate the uptake of the siRNA inside the cells, escape from the endosome and then finally unravel to reveal their siRNA payload. To address these challenges, the DAF group are developing polymer micelles—nanoparticles constructed from the aggregation of diblock copolymer chains—as new siRNA delivery systems. This project, in collaboration with the group of Dr Olaf Heidenreich of the Northern Institue of Cancer Research, is focused on developing an effective siRNA-based treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia.

Thermoresponsive Polymers: Thermoresponsive polymers are an important and extremely useful class of macromolecule which display great promise in numerous nanotechnological and biomedical applications. When substances are dissolved in solution, usually their solubilities are increased at elevated temperatures. Thermoresponsive polymers on the other hand display unusual behaviour in aqueous solution. When their solutions are heated, the polymer precipitates out of solution, and when the resulting suspension is cooled, the polymer redissolves. The temperature at which this precipitation occurs is called the lower critical solution temperature (LCST), and is usually determined by the hydrophilic-hydrophobic balance of the polymer chain. Put simply, the more hydrophobic the polymer, the lower the polymer LCST, and the more hydrophilic, the higher the LCST. The DAF group have found a new class of polymer which doesn’t follow this rule, and actually displays higher LCSTs when made more hydrophobic. These polymers could be very useful in delivery applications, and are a current topic of investigation in our laboratory.

Funding

€638,005 European Union FP7, (CI with other members of Chem Nano Lab), 2010
£39,060 Newcastle/Durham Universities KTA, 2010
£1,440 Newcastle University, 2010
£1,360 Nuffield Foundation, 2009
£330,517 EPSRC, 2009
£1440 Newcastle University, 2008
£1360 Nuffield Foundation,2007
£15000 Royal Society, 2007
£5000 Newcastle University, 2006

Undergraduate Teaching

Stage 2 Organic chemistry (CHY2101)(lecturer (16 lectures), tutor and lab course organiser

Stage 3 Organic chemistry (CHY3101), lab course demonstrator