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Prof Simon Gibbons
UCL School of Pharmacy
  • Professor of Medicinal
  • SoP Pharmaceutical & Bio Chemistry
  • UCL School of Pharmacy
  • Faculty of Life Sciences
Professor Simon Gibbons FRSC FLS is Professor of Medicinal Phytochemistry and Head of the Department of Pharmaceutical and Biological Chemistry at the UCL School of Pharmacy. His research interests are in the structure elucidation of novel bioactive natural products from plants and fungi, particularly on plant-derived antibacterials and natural product modulators of bacterial multidrug-efflux.
He has served on the UK Government’s Department of Health Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee (HMAC) and is the Chemistry Council member of the UK Government Home Office Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). He Chairs the ACMD’s Novel Psychoactive Substances Workgroup (NPSWG), which is evaluating the harms associated with “Legal Highs”.
He has been recognized for his work on plant natural products with the Pharmanex Prize (2012) and the Phytochemical Society of Europe-Pierre Fabre Prize for Phytochemistry (2005).
He is currently President of the Phytochemical Society of Europe, founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Phytochemistry Letters and serves on the editorial boards of the journals Natural Product Reports, Phytotherapy Research, Planta Medica, Fitoterapia, Phytochemical Analysis, Phytochemistry Reviews, The Chinese Journal of Natural Medicine and the prestigious book series Progress in the Chemistry of Organic Natural Products (“Zechmeister”). His further interests are skiing (badly) and drinking fine red wine (expertly).

I deliver lectures on phytochemistry, methods in natural product chemistry, drugs of abuse, polyketides, glycosides, functional groups and poisonous plants and fungi.
Research Groups
Research Summary
We are characterising antibacterial natural products from plants and fungi with activity against species of clinically-relevant bacteria. Examples of our work include anti-MRSA acylphloroglucinols from Hypericum olympicum,1 and anti-TB natural products such as the simple sulphur-containing alkaloids from Allium stipitatum.2 We have also been evaluating compounds that modify bacterial resistance as either Efflux Inhibitors (EIs),3 as inhibitors of plasmid transfer between bacteria, or as inhibitors of key enzymes in Mycobacterium tuberculosis cell wall biosynthesis, for example a simple prenylated phenyl pyranone against MurE ligase.4
There is also a growing interest in natural product5 and synthetic “legal highs”. These are psychoactive extracts from plants and fungi or pure synthetic compounds that are often modelled on existing and controlled natural product drugs of abuse, but are free from control as they are outside of legislation.  We have been evaluating the chemistry and biology of some of these agents such as simple tryptamines6 including 5-methoxy-N,N-diallyl-tryptamine, which is legal to possess in the EU, whilst closely related compounds such as psilocybin are classified as illegal drugs of abuse.  
1.    Shiu et al. 2012 J. Nat. Prod. 75:336.
2.    O’Donnell et al. 2009 J. Nat. Prod. 72:306
3.    Smith et al. 2007 Antimicrob.Agents Chemother. 51:4480
4.    Osman et al. 2012 Int. J. Antimicrobial Agents 39:124.
5.    Arunotayanun and Gibbons. 2012 Nat. Prod. Rep. 11:1304.
6.    Arunotayanun et al., 2013 Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. (In Press).
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