Take 10 with... Matthew Sullivan

Dr Matthew Sullivan, Research Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences, gives us 10 minutes of his time to discuss his research into how metallodrugs interact with proteins.

Dr Matthew Sullivan, School of Biological Sciences
Dr Matthew Sullivan, School of Biological Sciences

1.  Describe your research topic to us in ten words or less.

How metallodrugs interact with proteins and the implications on cells.

2.  Now describe it in everyday terms!

Metallodrugs are an important class of chemotherapeutic agents. There is an ever-increasing population of metallodrugs designed as protein-targeting agents. However, understanding their specificity is crucial to progressing these toward clinical studies. Further delving into the implications of the interaction between proteins and metallodrugs on cells and the body drives my research.

3.  What are some of the day-to-day research activities you carry out?

I would typically spend most of the day in the lab performing experiments and helping others with their research. If I am not in the laboratory, I am writing papers, grants, or teaching.

4.  What do you enjoy most about your research?

Being the first person to see a new interaction gives me the greatest sense of discovery, like being Neil Armstrong but on a much, much smaller scale.

5.  Tell us about something that has surprised you or amused you in the course of your research.

Developing a small experiment that I conducted eight years ago, which I thought was inconsequential, has flourished into a productive area of research. Applying the concept to new ideas has expanded the scope of that research.

6.  How have you approached any challenges you’ve faced in your research?

Challenges are what makes research fun. Identifying ways to solve challenges is part of the job. Finding complementary methods to confirm results can often be a real struggle, but that makes getting the answer more rewarding.

7.  What questions have emerged as a result?

Discovery often leads to more questions. Identifying ways to confirm initial discoveries brings up many challenges and turning these discoveries into a complete story for publication is the rewarding payoff of research.

8.  What kind of impact do you hope your research will have?

To improve our understanding of how drugs work in the body and take a step closer to curing cancer.

9.  If you collaborate across the faculty or University, or even outside the University, who do you work with and how does it benefit your research?

I work with many people within and outside of the University. Collaborations significantly expand the scope of the research we can conduct and allows us to tell a much richer story.

10.  What one piece of advice would you give your younger, less experienced research self?

Talk to plenty of people! They are the University's best resource and often will result in something special.