University of Dundee

Colin Robinson Q&A

Colin Robinson is originally from Ballymena, Northern Ireland and is a Medicinal Chemist within the Drug Discovery Unit (DDU). Since March, Colin has worked in the Units’ COVID-19 group to discover new medicines to treat the virus.

What COVID-19 project are you working on?

Since March, as part of the DDU COVID-19 group, I have been trying to discover new medicines to treat COVID-19. Initially this involved lots of reading of scientific literature to identify innovative ways to disrupt the virus. Now we are back in the lab we can start making molecules and testing our ideas.

What do you normally work on?

Normally I work in the Innovative Targets Group (ITG), and my current research is focussed on the development of novel inhibitors of Tau seeding for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

What’s your typical day?

In the DDU, we have adopted a split shift pattern to enable our lab to be socially distant. I start in the lab at 7.30am and finish at 12.30pm. During this time my focus is on practical work. In the afternoons I try to catch up on office work and usually have some MS Team’s meetings.

Beforehand, my work was more of a balance between the office and the lab. I would do office work when I was planning a reaction, or waiting for a reaction to finish, or to check some important results. Now, with our time limited in the lab, we try to be more focused.

What’s it like to work in the School of Life Sciences?

We have an active community with the DDU, with tea breaks, pizza meetings, pub trips and sport. Unfortunately, we can’t maintain many of these at the moment but are keeping in contact via virtual tea breaks for example. In our team we are planning a socially distanced picnic soon to catch up.

Why did you come to Dundee?

I was attracted to the DDU as the focus is on neglected diseases such as Malaria and TB. I liked that they tackled problems that have been de-prioritized by big companies. I also love the countryside and being close to the sea, so Dundee seemed like a perfect location for me. 

What inspired you to become a scientist?

I’ve always enjoyed learning about how things work. Chemistry and biology were good ways for me to put that to good use and potentially help someone by developing a new medicine.

What activities are you undertaking to de-stress?

I enjoy various sports (football, squash, running, cycling) and getting outside exploring somewhere new. Also enjoy replacing all those burnt calories eating.

What can’t you wait to get back to once remaining lockdown measures are lifted?

Being able to travel greater than 5 miles away from home has been great for getting out walking in some new places again. However, I’m still missing things like squash that I can’t quite get back to yet.

Quick fire questions:

  • Tea or Coffee? Tea
  • Morning or Afternoon? Morning
  • Cat or Dog? Dog
  • Sough dough bread or banana bread? Banana bread