Research Network for Metals in Medicine



Dr Hugh Harris

Position: Australian Synchrotron Research Program Postdoctoral Fellow

Affiliation: University of Sydney, School of Chemistry

Postal Address:
School of Chemistry - F11
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006

Phone: +61 (02) 9351 7600

Research Profile

Dr Harris performed comprehensive studies of two novel gas phase inorganic systems during his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Ian Dance at UNSW. The first of these involved the theoretical treatment of gas phase binary metal carbon clusters, explaining the observed distribution of species with different compositions, and described the electronic and geometric structures of these novel compounds. The second study reported the reactions of all 23 naturally occurring transition metals as gas phase bare monocations with the inorganic reagent phosphane (PH3). The work also matched density functional calculations to the experimental work, the reaction pathways of the individual metals were predicted on the basis of calculation of reaction mechanisms.

As a postdoctoral fellow with Graham George at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory in California (SSRL), Dr Harris has greatly expanded the scope of his research. While still involved in theoretical work involving metalloenzymes and models (molybdenum enzymes such as sulfite oxidase, copper chaperones), he gained intensive training in established XAS techniques as applied to a range of bioinorganic systems (mercury in fish, molybdenum enzymes and models, arsenic in ferns, sulfur in Allium plants). Dr Harris has also played a major role in pioneering revolutionary XAS imaging techniques revealing spatial distributions of different chemical species of one element in intact and even living biological samples, including whole live plants, insects and fish. In a new appointment as an Australian Synchrotron Research Program postdoctoral fellow under the supervision of Prof Peter Lay Dr Harris is applying these techniques to the study of the biological fate of several metals in mammalian cells.

Dr Harris has extensive experience with EXAFS, XANES and XAS imaging on both hard (up to Mo K-edge) and soft (down to S K-edge) X-rays on a range of chemical, biochemical and biological samples at beamlines 6-2, 7-3, 9-3 and 11-2 at SSRL, beamline 2-IDD at the APS, Chicago, and at the Australian National Beamline Facility, Tsukuba, Japan. Complementing this is considerable experience with the application of theoretical chemistry programs (mainly density functional) to inorganic and bioinorganic systems and Dr Harris has now published several articles where both experimental and theoretical results are critically analysed.

Dr Harris has been involved in international collaborations in the development of advanced density functional codes; with Joachim Sauer at Humboldt University with the hybrid QM/MM code QMPOT, and with Lars Pettersson at Stockholm University with the DeMon/StoBe program used to calculate XANES spectra. In both of these collaborations he has pioneered the use of the codes with systems of unprecedented size and nature.

Selected Publications

  1. Eileen Yu Sneeden, Hugh H. Harris, Ingrid J. Pickering, Roger C. Prince, Sherida Johnson, Xiaojie Li, Eric Block and Graham N. George. The Sulfur chemistry of Shiitake mushroom. J. Amer. Chem. Soc. In Press.
  2. Hugh H. Harris, Ingrid J. Pickering, Graham N. George. The chemical form of mercury in fish. Science. 301: 1203, 2003.
  3. Graham N. George, Ingrid J. Pickering, Hugh H. Harris, Jürgen Gailer, Dominik Klein, Josef Lichtmannegger and Karl-Heinz Summer. Thiomolybdate causes formation of copper-molybdenum clusters in an animal model of Wilson’s disease. J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 125(7):1704-1705, 2003.
  4. Gailer J. George GN. Harris HH. Pickering IJ. Prince RC. Somogyi A. Buttigieg GA. Glass RS. Denton MB. Synthesis, purification, and structural characterization of the dimethyldiselenoarsinate anion. Inorganic Chemistry. 41(21):5426-5432, 2002.
  5. Dance I.G., Dean P.A.W., Fisher K.J., Harris H.H., Metal cyanide ions [Mx(CN)y]+,- in the gas phase: M = Fe, Co, Ni, Zn, Cd, Hg, Fe + Ag, Co + Ag. Inorganic Chemistry. 41(13):3560-3569, 2002.
  6. Brown KR. Keller GL. Pickering IJ. Harris HH. George GN. Winge DR. Structures of the cuprous-thiolate clusters of the Mac1 and Ace1 transcriptional activators. Biochemistry. 41(20):6469-6476, 2002.
  7. Dance I., Wenger E., Harris H., Towards rational syntheses of the elusive metallocarbohedrenes: Density functional prescriptions for electronic and geometric structures. Chemistry - A European Journal. 8(15):3497-3511, 2002.
  8. Harris H., Fisher K., Dance I., Coordination and dehydrogenation of PH3 by 23 transition metal ions in the gas phase: FTICR experiments and density functional interpretations. Inorganic Chemistry. 40(27):6972-6982, 2001.
  9. Harris H., Dance I., The geometric and electronic structures of niobium carbon clusters. Journal of Physical Chemistry. 105(13):3340-3358, 2001.

International Linkages

Graham George and Ingrid Pickering (Canadian Light Source, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada)