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Chemical Biology

Tools at the Heart of Life

Around 2.5 million years ago beside the Awash River in northern central Ethiopia, our ancestors began a process that was to profoundly affect the future course of humanity. They picked up rocks, and began to make and use tools.

At iCeMS, we are toolmakers too. Today stone axes have given way to state-of-the-art chemical spies and rocks have been replaced by chemical switches. The principle however remains unchanged. ‘Super tools’ allow us to do things hitherto undreamed of. Chemical spies quietly enter cellular territory and brief us on whether cells are stem or differentiated. Chemical switches get straight into action purposefully creating a reaction in order to genetically control cell fate.

The path to new discoveries is open before us, making it a thrilling time to be a chemist. New tools allow us to create new life-changing drugs and materials, and devise novel approaches in the fight against, for example, cancer, AIDS, arterial disease, and aging.