Students going the extra mile

UM student presents anti-cancer research at international conference

Connor Deacon-Price is a recently graduated student at Maastricht Science Programme (MSP) and to be presenting his research in the battle against cancer at a mainstream high-level conference is extremely remarkable. Especially, given the fact, that he is an undergraduate student and already competing with graduate level (PhD level) students.


Connor essentially designed, synthesised, and performed analysis on different chemical complexes in the hope that they will one day allow medical professionals more flexibility when prescribing drugs to combat cancer.

Connor’s thesis was concerned with the synthesis and characterisation of various chemical complexes, some of which have never been made before. The idea behind them is to try and provide an alternative in anticancer drugs, as the field is flooded with drugs called ‘platins’.

Battle against cancer

Platins are chemicals that have a platinum centre, the most famous of which is a drug called cisplatin, which has been a mainstay as an anticancer drug for decadesWhilst platins are very good at what they do, there have many issues surrounding them. "This stimulated my research to widen the scope of non-platinum based antineoplastics.”

“The main idea was to perform chemical reactions upon this complex to vary it's chemical properties (mainly water solubility) and then of course send them for anticancer testing, which is happening right now.”

“I decided to work with ruthenium instead of platinum, as contemporary research has shown that it is a promising alternative, and I specifically modelled my complexes off of a very exciting complex called ‘RAPTA-C’.”


Connor had to officially apply for a grant to go to the conference in Copenhagen. The conference committee then made a selection based on the abstract he submitted and the application letter and he was awarded the travel bursary. It may not be very much, but it is definitely highly remarkable, given the fact that he is an undergraduate student and already competing with graduate level (PhD level) students.

Connor’s supervisor Dr. Burgert Blom decided to send Connor as he did his bachelors thesis in a research area Blom is currently establishing in Maastricht, in collaboration with several other groups in Austria, Switzerland and South Africa. This area involves the synthesis of ruthenium based complexes which have tin and germanium groups attached to them which might enhance the anti-cancer activity.

MSP just had a paper accepted based on some earlier work Blom did in a project period related to this called: “Synthesis and In Vitro (Anticancer) Evaluation of η6-Arene Ruthenium Complexes Bearing Stannyl Ligands”. It will be published in the open access journal: Inorganics


The EICC-4: EuCheMS Inorganic Chemistry Conference in Copenhagen is a well-attended international conference for experts in the field of inorganic and organometallic chemistry, including materials chemistry, catalysis and bioinorganic chemistry.

After MSP

Connor graduated Maastricht Science Programme last Friday. After a well-deserved holiday he will go on and start a Chemistry master at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Together with another MSP-graduate he is currently looking for an apartment in Amsterdam.

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