We are a team of 35 organic chemists, biochemists, and analysts carrying out fundamental, applied and commercial research together with student supervision.

Research expertise

We tackle a broad range of applied chemistry problems. Our scientists have deep experience in synthetic carbohydrate and medicinal chemistry, plant natural products and polysaccharide analysis.

When we need to move beyond laboratory scale, we work alongside experts in process chemistry and chemical engineering at GlycoSyn.

GlycoSyn, our on-site cGMP (current good manufacturing practice) partner, specialises in developing the manufacturing methods necessary to make materials in sufficient quantity and quality for clinical trials. We work together closely to offer a seamless service for clients.

Collaboration and partnerships

We partner with biochemists and biologists to enable our drug discovery programmes and take our technologies to market. Discoveries from our research programmes are available for licence, while IP generated during fee-for-service work remains with the client.

Key collaborators include:

  • Professor Vern Schramm, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Professor Jerry Turnbull, University of Liverpool
  • Malaghan Institute of Medical Research

group photo of  almost 50 people

Team style

We are close-knit team with a strong family feel—several of us have worked together for nearly to 30 years. Visitors and new staff and students find a warm welcome with us.

We are encouraged to be independent, curious and creative; to share our successes and discuss our chemistry problems. We strive for excellence in every aspect of our research, collaboration and communication.

Te kāuru

Our Māori name translates as ‘the source’ but has two distinct meanings, both of which relate to our institute. Te kāuru references the head of a tree, river or stream, and the upper branches of te kōuka, New Zealand’s native cabbage tree.

Te kāuru speaks to us of the beginning of a chemical synthesis or the clues in nature that inspire our work. From these beginnings we create new molecules and technologies with the potential to heal people and benefit New Zealand.

In earlier times, te kāuru, the fructose-containing upper stems of the cabbage tree, was an important source of carbohydrate for Māori. The stems were cut, stripped of bark, steamed in a hangi (earth oven) and then often stored to provide a winter food supply. When required for food, te kāuru was either chewed or pounded and mixed with water until it resembled a thin porridge.

The analysis of native plant and seaweed polysaccharides, including te kōuka, is a significant strand of research at the Ferrier.