Martin Banwell graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a BSc (Hons) and PhD and has since held positions at Ohio State University (1979-1980), The University of Adelaide (1980-1981), The University of Auckland (1982-1986), The University of Melbourne (1986-1992), ETH Zurich (1991-1992), The University of Melbourne (1993-1994) before his appointment as Senior Fellow at The Research School of Chemistry in 1995.
He was awarded Fellowships of the Royal Australian Institute of Chemistry (1992), the Australian Academy of Science (2004) and The Royal Society of Chemistry (2009). He was also made an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (2000), an Erskine Fellow of the University of Canterbury (2005) and elected Fellow of the World Innovation Foundation (2005). He was appointed to a Professorship in 1999.
The group’s activities continue to be focused on the development of new synthetic strategies and methodologies as well as the application of these in the total synthesis of biologically active natural products and certain analogues.
Vinblastine (a binary indole-indoline alkaloid used in the treatment of early childhood leukaemia and bladder cancer), quinine (the famous anti-malarial alkaloid), various Amaryllidaceae alkaloids (e.g. lycorine, galanthamine and nobistiline A) and the potent new antibiotic platencin represent key targets and have inspired a considerable number of methodological studies.
Australian industry has funded a significant portion of our work, while a new collaboration has just started with the German-based company BASF and is focused on developing novel agrochemicals based on marine natural products found in the cooler parts of the Southern Hemisphere oceans.