Organic chemist John Moses joined the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) faculty as its first chemistry professor in September, 2020. His research centers on the field of click chemistry, which relies upon the development of powerful reactions that are fast, simple-to-use, high-yielding, and versatile. This approach to chemistry is helpful in various fields of biological research. “If we develop good chemistry, then it can be used in any application,” says Moses. “From drug discovery, to helping the biologist understand how proteins interact, or enzymes work, to looking for drug targets.”
Moses first became interested in chemistry as an apprentice at a manufacturer of water test kits and reagents, developing tests to evaluate water quality. The color-changing reactions sparked his curiosity about chemistry, leading him to study the subject as an undergrad at the University of Bath. While a Ph.D. student at Oxford, he read a paper that set him on his career path. It was by Barry Sharpless of Scripps Research on click chemistry; he later did a postdoctoral fellowship with him and continued to develop the approach ever since.
Moses was familiar with CSHL as a student, but became more aware and impressed with the facilities and the faculty when he started collaborations with other researchers. “I started working with Dave Tuveson on a project, and he invited me to the Lab. Oh my goodness, I was blown away,” he said. “What an incredible place on every level of science. The beauty of people really engaging and wanting to talk about science—that doesn’t happen everywhere.”