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Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry


Professor Melinda Duer, Professor of Biological and Biomedical Chemistry

As a Royal Society Research Fellow at the start of her scientific career, Professor Melinda Duer had a revolutionary idea. She wanted to perform pioneering experiments on bone with a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer.

As she didn’t have access to the necessary bits of NMR equipment, it wasn’t until she met a German scientist with spare capacity for her experiments that she was able to follow her scientific convictions, with spectacular results. 

“At the time, nobody had performed this kind of experiment on bone samples and I had to work hard to secure the funding I needed. I was rejected a number of times because of that before eventually receiving a grant of £3,000 from the British Council, who were keen to fund speculative research. With this support I was able to discover how calcium phosphate crystals are held in the organic matrix of bone.” 

Professor Duer’s discovery caused a sea-change in our understanding of bone, underpinning major clinical advances in osteoporosis, rheumatology and a wide-range of other fields. The initial grant she received has now led to over £1 million of research grants being allocated to this field. 

See also Chem@Cam Issue 57, pages 17-18, to read more about Professor Duer and her research.