EPSRC/GSK announce creation of new Chair in Sustainable Chemistry at the University of Nottingham

May 31st, 2012
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) today announced that they will jointly contribute to the funding for a Chair in Sustainable Chemistry to be based at the planned GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry at the University of Nottingham. It is hoped that this new investment in sustainable chemistry will help to further strengthen the UK as a leader in life-sciences while contributing to environmental stewardship.

The creation of the Chair is part of a wider research agenda into sustainability and green chemistry at the University of Nottingham, and will have a particular focus on research of relevance to the pharmaceutical industry. The Chair will be responsible for developing and sharing best practice in green chemistry and catalysing new collaborations with other institutions and industry partners. The role will also be pivotal to successfully attract top UK academics, postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers to Nottingham helping to embed sustainable chemistry principles in the next generation of scientists.

Commenting on the announcement, Business Secretary Vince Cable, who is visiting the University of Nottingham today, said: "This appointment will further strengthen links between the University of Nottingham and GlaxoSmithKline, encouraging collaboration on a range of important research. It marks another important step in the establishment of the Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry based at the university, which will hopefully come to play an important role in the development and manufacture of new drugs."

Professor David Delpy, EPSRC Chief Executive said: "The Chair will be pivotal to the UK's sustainable chemistry research base, leading a collaborative partnership with GSK and other institutions that will put environmental stewardship firmly at the heart of future drug discovery. Furthermore, our vision is to provide an innovative, world-leading training framework through this appointment."

Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK said: "We recognize that the success of the Sustainable Chemistry centre being established at the University of Nottingham will rely on the experts running it. That is why we are delighted to collaborate with EPSRC to jointly contribute to the funding of this new Chair. This is a great example of the public and private sector working together to find new ways to protect the environment and conserve natural resources for the future. We hope this support will enable the University of Nottingham to attract a world class leader, helping to forge stronger links between industry and academia and encourage more young people into science."

Professor David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham, said: "The announcement by EPSRC and GSK of funding for a Chair in Sustainable Chemistry is extremely welcome news. It will enable the University and GSK to work together to undertake ground-breaking work in drug development and underlines the reputation of Nottingham as a real centre of excellence for scientific research in the UK."

The laboratory building itself will reflect the emphasis on sustainability being one of the first laboratory buildings designed to Building Research Establishment Environment Assessment Method (BREEAM) 'Outstanding' standard. Read more about the creation of the Carbon Neutral Laboratory and the Sustainable Chemistry Centre of Excellence it will house here.

Within the wider strategic vision for developing Nottingham as a key UK Centre for Sustainable Chemistry, it is anticipated that a candidate for this prestigious appointment will demonstrate a highly interdisciplinary approach to research and fit into one or a number of key thematic areas which include:

  • Innovative synthetic routes based on alternative renewable starting materials (feedstocks) and use of solvents that have less impact on the environment
  • Effective use of scarce resources minimising the use of rare metals as catalysts in synthetic chemistry.
  • Building understanding of new ways of working for minimum carbon impact.
  • New oxidation chemistry using air as the terminal oxidant, including photochemical singlet oxygen chemistry, to remove our dependence on metal-based oxidants.
  • Novel approaches to fluorination using benign sources of fluoride and new reagents that avoid the need for strong acids or strong bases.
  • Pioneering use of new techniques and technologies that minimize energy and maximize reaction efficiency, including flow chemistry and microwave heating.

In addition, the successful candidate would be expected to fully engage in delivering the School's innovative teaching and learning agenda and contribute to new programmes in "sustainable chemistry" and "drug discovery".

Provided by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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