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Poster Prize for Leah Taylor-KearneyPoster Prize for Leah Taylor-Kearney

Congratulations to Leah Taylor-Kearney for winning a prize for her poster at the N-Term2017 meeting in Halle, Germany (11-13 Sept). Leah is a joint D.Phil. student between the Flashman group (Chemistry) and Rickaby group (Earth Sciences), and presented work which she has conducted in collaboration with Francesco Licausi from the University of Pisa (Italy) describing conserved function for a Plant Cysteine Oxidase from the early land plant Marchantia polymorphia. The meeting brought together the international community interested in regulation of protein stability by the N-end rule pathway.

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Poster Prize for Mireia SideraPoster Prize for Mireia Sidera

Mireia Sidera, a postdoc in the Fletcher group was awarded the EURJOC poster prize in the 26th International Society of Heterocyclic Chemistry congress held in Regensburg in September 2017 on her work entitled "Asymmetric Cross-couplings using Racemic Starting Materials”

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Poster Prize for Sarah MorrowPoster Prize for Sarah Morrow

Sarah Morrow (bottom right), a third year PhD student in the Fletcher group, won a poster prize at the XVIII International Conference on the Origin of Life, hosted at the University of California, San Diego, in July. Her poster was entitled “Physical Autocatalysis Far From Equilibrium”

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Revolutionary process could signal new era for gene synthesisRevolutionary process could signal new era for gene synthesis

Gene synthesis is a vital research tool with real-world applications in everything from growing transplantable organs to developing treatments for cancer. In a new study in Nature Chemistry, scientists at the University of Southampton, in collaboration with partners at the University of Oxford and ATDBio (a DNA synthesis company based in Southampton and Oxford), demonstrate a purely chemical method for gene assembly which overcomes the limitations of existing methods. Study co-author Professor Tom Brown commented “The synthesis of chemically modified genes, which we have achieved by a radical new approach, will become ever more important as the effects of epigenetically modified DNA on gene expression become clear. We started the underpinning work on click ligation over 10 years ago, so it’s very satisfying to now be at the stage where we can demonstrate this workable and highly effective new approach to gene synthesis.”

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Professor Ben Davis elected as a member of Academia EuropeeaProfessor Ben Davis elected as a member of Academia Europeea

Academia Europaea was founded in 1988 and is a European, non-governmental association acting as an Academy. It has just over 3700 members including leading experts from the physical sciences and technology, biological sciences and medicine, mathematics, the letters and humanities, social and cognitive sciences, economics and the law. The object of Academia Europaea is the advancement and propagation of excellence in scholarship in all areas of academia. Ben Davis studies the chemistry of carbohydrates and proteins, particularly their role in acting as biological markers in processes such as immune response and cancer metastasis, and the consequent potential for development of new drugs for treating diseases.

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#GetBrianToOxford Victory#GetBrianToOxford Victory

You may have seen media coverage about Brian White, who has been offered an undergraduate place to read Chemistry at Oxford, but whose immigration status did not permit him to take up this place, even though he had been adopted by a UK family. We are delighted that the Home Office has decided to change his status so that he will be eligible to take up his place. Brian’s academic credentials are excellent, and he is exactly the sort of student Oxford exists to educate. Many thanks for the more than 100000 signatories on the petition who have helped this gifted student get the permission he needs to take up his place.

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Prize winners at RSC Main Group Chemistry MeetingPrize winners at RSC Main Group Chemistry Meeting

Congratulations to Alexa Caise and Jamie Hicks who won prizes for best poster and best contributed talk at the RSC’s annual Main Group chemistry meeting in London on September 1st. Both are working on joint projects involving the Aldridge/Goicoechea groups on novel applications of aluminium chemistry, with Jamie’s work being supported by the Oxford/SCG Centre of Excellence.

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Outstanding Researcher Award PrizeOutstanding Researcher Award Prize

Giulia Fiorani a PDRA in Charlotte Williams’ group recently attended the “15th International Conference on Carbon Dioxide Utilization”(ICCDU XV), which was held in Shanghai between July 17th and July, 21st 2017. During the conference Giulia was selected by the Conference International Scientific Committee as one of the “Outstanding Young Researcher Award” prize recipient for her oral presentation.

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Accurate and reversible control of synthetic tissuesAccurate and reversible control of synthetic tissues

Research from the Bayley Group led by Dr Michael Booth, published in Scientific Reports, is an important step towards the development of remotely controlled synthetic tissues that could eventually be used for applications like drug delivery or tissue repair. Previous research by the Bayley group led to the development of a printer that can be used to create networks consisting of tens of thousands of picoliter-sized droplets, forming a cohesive material. These networks can be built in controlled arrangements, using a number of different droplet types, thus enabling them to perform cell-like functions and act as tissue-like materials. Initial work showed that printed networks were capable of conducting electrical signals by the incorporation of membrane proteins, or to fold in a pre-defined manner to assume altered shapes after printing. Dr Booth has previously expanded this work by creating light-activated synthetic tissues, from these droplet networks. By incorporating light-activated DNA and a cell free expression system into the droplets, the researchers made a controllable, conductive pathway in the synthetic tissue that mimics that way in which nervous cells communicate. This was the first example of controlling a minimal biological function inside droplet networks with an external signal. The new research builds on this by achieving precise and reversible control of individual compartments of these synthetic tissues, after they are formed. Using the light-activated cell free expression system or a reversible fluorescent protein, the researchers generated droplet networks in lipid-containing oil. A fluorescence light microscope with the diaphragm reduced to less than the diameter of the size of a single droplet was used to irradiate individual droplets. Blue and yellow light was used to repeatedly activate and deactivate the reversible fluorescent protein. Increasing or decreasing the duration of the irradiation when activating the cell free expression allowed the researchers to alter the extent of protein expression in each droplet. This work demonstrates for the first time that droplet networks can be externally controlled and precisely patterned after printing, and represents an important step towards their development as remotely controlled synthetic tissues. It is hoped that in the future, controllable synthetic tissues could be interfaced with living tissue. Such tissues, controllable at single-droplet resolution, could for example be used to stimulate single cells or groups of cells in order to activate precise neuronal pathways. Fig: Light-activated expression of a face-like pattern in a synthetic tissue. Scale bars, 200 μm.

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RSC Chemical Science Hot PaperRSC Chemical Science Hot Paper

Research from the Weller group published in Chemical Science, by PDRAs Antonio Martinez-Martinez and Alasdair Mckay, that reports the development of Solid state Molecular Organometallic Catalysts (SMOM–Cat), sponsored in part by SCG Chemicals, has been chosen as a “hot” paper for July.

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A New Way to 3D-Print Living TissueA New Way to 3D-Print Living Tissue

Research led by Bayley group in collaboration with scientists at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and the University of Bristol shows promise for a new approach to regenerative medicine. The researchers have developed a new method to 3D-print laboratory-grown cells to form living structures. It is hoped that, with further development, the materials could have a wide impact on healthcare worldwide.

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Poster Prize for Aini VuorinenPoster Prize for Aini Vuorinen

Aini Vuorinen, a Muscular Dystrophy UK-funded DPhil student in Angela Russell’s group, has been awarded a poster prize at 11th European Summer School - Advanced Proteomics in Bressanone, Italy (30th July to 5th August). The international workshop provided a comprehensive insight into proteomic technologies and applications in the life sciences. Aini presented aspects of her work using chemoproteomics to elucidate the molecular mechanism of action of small molecule modulators of utrophin for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Therapy.

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Poster Prize for Annie ColebatchPoster Prize for Annie Colebatch

Congratulations to Dr Annie Colebatch from the Weller group for receiving a poster prize at the European Conference on Organometallic Chemistry in Amsterdam (July 2017) on her work entitled “Rhodium Catalysed Dehydropolymerisation of Amine-boranes. The European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS) 22nd Conference on Organometallic Chemistry (EuCOMC XXI) is hosted under the auspices of the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS).

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Poster Prize for Renee HaverPoster Prize for Renee Haver

Congratulations to Renee for winning a prize for her poster at the International Symposium on Novel Aromatic Compounds (ISNA) in Stony Brook, New York, USA. Renee is a D.Phil. student in Harry Anderson’s group. The conference offered an international forum to present and discuss new findings and exchange ideas on advanced synthesis, structure-property relationship, and applications of novel aromatic compounds.

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President-Elect of the Royal Society of ChemistryPresident-Elect of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Professor Dame Carol Robinson is President-Elect of the RSC for 2017-18. Carol’s work on mass spectrometry has attracted national and international recognition and she is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Anfinsen Award from the Protein Society, the Davy Medal and the Rosalind Franklin Award from the Royal Society. In 2013 Carol was made a DBE in recognition of her contributions to science and industry.

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1st TMCS symposium1st TMCS symposium

TMCS held their first annual symposium on 20-21st July in Oxford, delegates included students from all 3 cohorts, as well as industrial partners, advisory board members, academics and supervisors. The two days included presentations from cohort 1, guest talks, a poster session from the students, outreach presentations and demonstrations from cohort 1 and 2 and careers discussions.

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PRL Editors’ SuggestionPRL Editors’ Suggestion

Research from the Perkin group, reporting experiments and a scaling theory of screening in concentrated electrolytes, is highlighted as the Editors’ Suggestion in Physical Review Letters this week. The article was accompanied by an illustration designed by Karl Harrison.

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Poster Prize: Gemma TrottPoster Prize: Gemma Trott

Gemma Trott, a DPhil student in Charlotte Williams’ group, has been awarded a poster prize at the International Symposium on Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry (ISMSC) in conjunction with ISACS: Challenges in Organic Materials & Supramolecular Chemistry (Cambridge, 2-6 July 2017). Her poster, titled ‘Synergy using Zinc and Magnesium: Heterodinuclear polymerisation catalysts showing enhanced performances’, presented recent work on the development of a series of heterodinuclear catalysts which show superior activity towards the copolymerisation of carbon dioxide and epoxides.

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Oral presentation prize: Ben CloughOral presentation prize: Ben Clough

Congratulations to Dr Ben Clough (PDRA, Mountford group) for receiving an oral presentation prize and certificate at the recent RSC 3rd Southern Dalton Meeting in London for his lecture entitled “Synthesis and small molecule activation by the first Group 3-boryimido complex”.

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2017 BTM Willis Prize2017 BTM Willis Prize

This week saw the prestigious BTM Willis prize for outstanding neutron scattering science awarded to Dr Andrew Seel, from the University of Oxford and UCL. The prize is jointly awarded by the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Physics Neutron Scattering Groups to an early career researcher addressing a significant problem in physical, life or engineering science, or in recognition of a major development in a neutron scattering technique. Dr Seel is recognised in both these categories – he was instrumental in the further development and expansion of mass-resolved neutron spectroscopy in the chemical sciences, and he has used a wide range of neutron techniques to study a group of functional materials known as metal-amine solutions.

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2017 Biopharma Innovation Cup2017 Biopharma Innovation Cup

Two Oxford Alumni, Anna Rydzik (Schofield's group) and Wilian Cortopassi (Paton's group), got second prize (€ 5,000) in the 2017 Biopharma Innovation Cup organised by Merck KGaA, in Darmstadt, Germany. They were selected over more than 1400 applications for the Medicinal Chemistry team and worked together on an innovative idea on DNA-encoded libraries

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Poster Prize: Tim StößerPoster Prize: Tim Stößer

Tim Stößer, a DPhil student in Charlotte Williams’ group, has been awarded a prize for this poster “Selective Synthesis of Block Copolyesters from Mixed Monomer Feedstocks” at the Macro Group YRM 2017 meeting held in Edinburgh on 19/20th June. His poster describes the one-pot combination of two polymerisation mechanisms (ring-opening polymerisation and ring-opening copolymerisation) with a commercially available Salen catalyst.

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Oxford Drug Design secures £1.5M financing Oxford Drug Design secures £1.5M financing

Oxford Drug Design Ltd (previously known as InhibOx), the leading computer aided drug design and 3D chemical database company, is pleased to announce that it has completed a £1.5 million fundraise to enable it to progress a novel antibacterial programme and continue to build its proprietary platform. The funding, which will also help finance the company’s commercial and research and development (R&D) activities, was supported by both existing shareholders including IP Group plc as well as new investors including Busolantix Investment SA, O2h Ventures and a number of Business Angels. The round is tranched, subject to the achievement of certain milestones. Oxford Drug Design will continue to build and utilise its proprietary technology platform in cheminformatics, 3D molecular similarity and computer-aided drug design, in parallel with progressing the antibacterial programme.

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2017 Prix Paul Ehrlich of the Société de Chimie Thérapeutique 2017 Prix Paul Ehrlich of the Société de Chimie Thérapeutique

Professor Ben Davis has been awarded the 2017 Prix Paul Ehrlich of the Société de Chimie Thérapeutique (SCT). The prize, for outstanding contributions to medicinal chemistry, is awarded annually at the International Meeting of Therapeutic Chemistry (RICT). The award of 3500 Euros is funded by Janssen Research and Development, a division of Jansen-Cilag S.A., and the winner is invited to give a 45 minute plenary lecture at the SCT international meeting which will be held this year in Toulouse, 5-7 July.

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Prof. Melanie Sanford presents 2017 Andy Derome lecturesProf. Melanie Sanford presents 2017 Andy Derome lectures

The Department was delighted to host Prof. Melanie Sanford, the Moses Gomberg Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Michigan, to present the 2017 Andy Derome lectures. Prof. Sanford presented two fantastic seminars on her recent work on C-H functionalisation and also development and applications of new fluorination reactions.

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OxStem Ltd featured in NatureOxStem Ltd featured in Nature

OxStem Ltd, a University of Oxford spin-out company co-founded by Professor Steve Davies and Prof. Angela Russell, is featured in the May 2017 issue of Nature in an article entitled “Masters of Medicine”. OxStem was selected as one of six innovative and disruptive University start-up biotechnology companies from around the world to be profiled in the article.

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Prof. John F. Hartwig presents 2017 Robert Robinson lecturesProf. John F. Hartwig presents 2017 Robert Robinson lectures

It was an honour to host Prof. John F. Hartwig, who holds the Henry Rapoport Chair in Organic Chemistry at University of California Berkeley, in the Department this week. Prof. Hartwig presented the 2017 Robert Robinson lectures to packed audiences in the Inorganic Chemistry lecture theatre, the first on an established programme of work in his group on site-selective C-H bond functionalisation reactions, and the second on emerging research merging organometallic and enzymatic catalysis.

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Oxford Chemistry Tops the League TablesOxford Chemistry Tops the League Tables

The Department’s MChem course has come top of the Chemistry list in the Guardian University Guide. The guide allocates scores out of 100 for a number of factors, including staff-student ratios, teaching quality and student satisfaction. Oxford scored highly in all categories, particularly for course satisfaction and career prospects. Taking all factors into account, Oxford’s excellence rating was 100, the highest score of any UK Chemistry department.

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Highlighted on Nanowerk.comHighlighted on Nanowerk.com

The direct measurement of the surface energy of pristine graphene has been published in Nanoletters and has been listed on the front-page of Nanowerk. These measurements are a result of very close collaboration between Prof Perkin’s and Prof Grobert's 'Nanomaterials by Design' Team over many years and many years of fine tuning large-area graphene synthesis and transfer in conjunction with an in-depth understanding and fundamental development of the surface-force-balance technique. The work has been made possible largely through ERC funding. The findings are an important part of Christian’s PhD work. In his PhD, Christian has been taking early work of Dr Jude Britton (Oxford Materials DPhil) and Dr Nico Cousens (Oxford Chemistry PDRA) to the next level and by doing so we have been able to pave the way for a wide range of new opportunities for both the fundamental and applied sciences with this technique.

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Nature Structural & Molecular Biology PaperNature Structural & Molecular Biology Paper

Research from Tom Brown’s group sheds new light on the mechanism by which the modified DNA base 5-formylcytosine is recognised by epigenetic reader and writer proteins. Work from DPhil student Jack Hardwick, Afaf El-Sagheer and collaborators at Harwell and the University of Kentucky has challenged previous findings that 5-formylcytosine gives rise to a unique conformation of the DNA double helix. Their results instead point towards a recognition mechanism that operates at base-pair resolution.

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