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Samuel Furse

I have had a curiosity about how things work, and an interest in telling people about it, for as long as I can remember.  At the age of five this involved fiddling with wires, bulbs and batteries and trying to build small circuits to make the bulbs light up. This broadened at school, with an interest in chemistry and biology developing early on and culminated in A-levels in these subjects, along with music.

I am the third generation to work in science, after my maternal uncle and grandfather.  Unlike them, my training is more in chemistry than biology. However, like them, I prefer research questions in biology. The unusual combination of means my strongest interest is in using physical and chemical techniques to solve problems in biological systems. This approach is known as chemical biology.

This interest in working between disciplines started with my first degree, in medicinal chemistry at (UCL, 2004), returning to the city where I was born. After graduating, I worked in drug design and development at Evotec OAI, (2004-5), now Evotec GmbH. I then started my postgraduate work at Imperial College London, first in protein and membrane chemical biology (MRes, 2006) and then in lipid chemical biology (PhD, 2011) with the Templer, Gaffney and Woscholski groups at the Chemical Biology Centre (Now the Institute of Chemical Biology).  This work involved synthesising inositides and characterising their physical behaviour.

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Samuel Furse

After a short post-doctoral project in a related investigation in inositides at Imperial College, I undertook accelerated training in science teaching.  Following that, I took a post-doctoral position at the School of BiosciencesUniversity of Nottingham.  During this project, I developed a novel and reliable means for profiling the lipid and protein fractions of part of a plant organelle (research paper can be found here).  During this time, I began to blog about all aspects of lipids, from well-understood features of their behaviour and chemistry, to new developments.

Following this project, I left the UK to do a post-doctoral project at the University of Utrecht (Universiteit Utrecht), in the Membrane Biochemistry and Biophysics Group.  I researched the lipid composition of a parent strain of E. coli through the cell cycle (paper here), and the physical behaviour of lipid systems as models for chemical stress in single-celled organisms.  I explored this further at the University of Bergen, determining the modulation of lipid abundance in the cell cycle of the Gram-positive Listeria innocua and alga Desmodesmus quadricauda, with some work on HeLa. This gave me an interest in lipid development in multi-cellular organisms, especially in development.

This led me to take a position with Dr Albert Koulman at the Core Metabolomics and Lipidomics Laboratory at the Insitute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge.  Here, I have researched the lipid metabolism associated with infant development, gestational diabetes, and maternal and paternal nutritional programming.  I have also developed several lipidomics tools both for data collection and analysis.