The Science of Sugar: Lessons Learned with Pauline Rudd
Pauline Rudd’s passion for glycans started early – as a teenager she experimented with extracting sugars from natural products in her kitchen. Today, she is a principal investigator at NIBRT – Ireland’s National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training. Here, she reflects on her early interest, and the complex but crucial role of glycobiology in biosimilar development.
Pauline Rudd |
Chemistry is fascinating... but wasn’t my first choice
As a child, I wanted to be a physicist. My uncle was a physicist and he and I used to talk physics every time we met. I joined the British Junior Astronomical Association, but it was very male dominated at the time; there were 48 boys... and me. I was never allowed to look down the telescope. I got into chemistry, and specifically sugars, because I could do it at home in my kitchen using very simple ingredients, like potato starch. I used to beg a few grams of this and that from the pharmacies in my hometown for my experiments. Eventually, a pharmacist suggested that I talk to his son, telling me: “He’s as crazy as you are!” We had similar interests, and while still in school started a company called Wessex Biochemicals to make rare sugars and sugar phosphates. I was about 14 years old and it was tremendous fun. Our main piece of equipment at the time was a washing machine with a heater and a side paddle, which we used to extract trehalose from hot ethanol and baker’s yeast.
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