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Part II Lewis Morgan wins prize for BCA conference talkPart II Lewis Morgan wins prize for BCA conference talk

Lewis Morgan's presentation "Improving Our Understanding of Modulation in Molecular Materials" won the prize for the best oral contribution at the Young Crystallographers Satellite to the British Crystallographic Association Spring Meeting. The award, supplied by the Industrial Group and administered by the Young Crystallographers Group, included the opportunity to give the talk again, this time as a plenary in the main meeting.

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Turning aluminium chemistry on its headTurning aluminium chemistry on its head

Collaborative research between the Aldridge and Goicoechea groups carried out by Jamie Hicks and Petra Vasko, and published recently in Nature, has led to the development of nucleophilic aluminium compounds that can be employed in reverse polarity Al-E bond forming chemistry

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Rising Star of the Year AwardRising Star of the Year Award

Jacob Bush of GSK has been named Rising Star of the Year at this year’s TARGETjobs National Graduate Recruitment Awards. The rising star award recognises the contribution made by a recent graduate. After his undergraduate degree at Oxford, Jacob stayed on to do a doctorate with Prof. Chris Schofield before joining GSK, where he helped to launch a new doctoral programme for chemical biology students between GSK, Oxford and the Francis Crick Institute.

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Poster Prize at the Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Dalton Poster Competition.Poster Prize at the Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Dalton Poster Competition.

Anastasia Spearing-Ewyn and Thomas Williams, DPhil students in the Weller and O'Hare group respectively, have each been awarded a runner-up Poster Prize at the Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Dalton Poster Competition. This took place during the Dalton 2018 Joint Interest Groups Meeting at Warwick

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Michael Booth to receive 2019 Biochemical Society AwardMichael Booth to receive 2019 Biochemical Society Award

Dr Michael Booth, researcher in the Bayley Group, is to receive an Early Career Research Award from the Biochemical Society. These awards recognise the impact of research carried out by early career scientists who have produced international quality research and demonstrated their potential to achieve world-leading status. Michael’s award is in recognition of his outstanding work in the area of Biotechnology. This includes developing novel DNA sequencing techniques for the detection of two newly discovered modified DNA bases. These newly discovered modified bases had been implicated in human development and disease progression; however, there were no sequencing techniques to precisely map them in the genome to uncover their functional relevance. The award also recognised his synthesis of light-activated DNA and its use to stringently control protein expression in synthetic tissues. These synthetic tissues act as functional mimics of neuronal transmission that can be controlled in a precise way. Michael will receive a prize of £1000 and will give an Award Lecture at a Biochemical Society meeting during 2019.

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‘The Burton Boys’ win 1st Prize at the 5th RSC/SCI Retrosynthesis Competition‘The Burton Boys’ win 1st Prize at the 5th RSC/SCI Retrosynthesis Competition

Sam Chan (Croucher Scholar), Kilian Garrec (SBM CDT) and Joe Mason (SBM CDT) won the 1st prize at the final of the 5th National Retrosynthesis Competition, celebrated at the Burlington House (London) on Friday 16th March. Following an initial round planning a retrosynthesis of Annotinolide C, ten teams were selected to enter the final – including another team from Oxford Chemistry. These three final year students from the Burton group delivered a very polished presentation on their proposed route to Pestaloficin A, winning both the 1st prize from the judges and the audience prize. Many congratulations Burton Boys!

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On the cover of J Chem PhysOn the cover of J Chem Phys

A collaboration between the Brouard and Vallance groups and the University of Aarhus has been featured on the cover of the Journal of Chemical Physics. The paper describes how gas-phase structural isomers can be identified and distinguished by the process of Coulomb explosion imaging, and indicates that this method could be applied to a much broader class of molecules than has previously been studied. This research was made possible by the use of a fast ion imaging sensor, the Pixel Imaging Mass Spectrometry camera, that was developed by Oxford Chemistry, Oxford Physics, and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

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Syngenta Postdoc SymposiumSyngenta Postdoc Symposium

Six postdocs from Oxford Chemistry, with interests across organic chemistry and chemical biology, took part in the 4th Syngenta Postdoc Symposium. After an afternoon of exciting science, Dr James Morris from Syngenta presented prizes to Dr Charlie Fehl (Davis group), for his talk on In situ boronate activation for metallaphotoredox-initiated protein functionalization, and Dr Lan-Gui Xie (Dixon group), for his talk on Iridium-catalysed reductive functionalisation of tertiary amides. The other participants were Drs Michel Rickhaus (HLA group), Venkaiah Chintalapudi (EAA group), Tom McAllister (AK group), and Manjeet Kumar (JWB group)

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Editorial Appointments in OxfordEditorial Appointments in Oxford

Prof Angela Russell has recently been appointed as an editor for the journal Tetrahedron and Prof Tim Donohoe has just been appointed as Chairman of the Executive Board of Editors for Tetrahedron Publications. Tetrahedron is the international journal for the rapid publication of full original research papers and critical reviews in organic chemistry.

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Charlotte Williams awarded 2018 Otto Roelen MedalCharlotte Williams awarded 2018 Otto Roelen Medal

Charlotte Williams is the recipient of the Otto Roelen Medal for 2018. It is awarded by DECHEMA and the German Catalysis society every two years for outstanding scientific work in the field of catalysis, the award is sponsored by OXEA GmbH. She was awarded the Medal at the 51st German Catalysis Meeting, held in Weimar from 14-16 March.

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Oxford Nanopore value reaches 1.5 BillionOxford Nanopore value reaches 1.5 Billion

Oxford Nanopore, the spin-out company founded by Professor Hagan Bayley and supported by IP Group PLC has raised £100M in new investment. The funds will support a new manufacturing facility, commercial expansion, and development of new innovative products.

Dr Gordon Sanghera, CEO, Oxford Nanopore, said: ‘Our business is moving quickly, from personal sequencers into high-end sequencing and distributed analyses. In recent weeks, both Oxford Nanopore and our customers have shown very high yields of data from PromethION Flow Cells, demonstrating low-cost long-read nanopore sequencing at large scale. Meanwhile, we are driving a change in how scientists and industries access DNA information, by introducing smaller, accessible, low-cost formats, including our forthcoming smartphone sequencer SmidgION. Our investors are ambitious and support our long-term vision: to enable the analysis of any living thing, by anyone, anywhere. ‘We would also like to thank the innovative community of nanopore users, who have been instrumental in driving new uses for our products.’

Prime Minister Theresa May said: ‘I’m pleased that such a pioneering British business has obtained the investment they need to grow, creating thousands more jobs and continuing ground-breaking research in this field here in the UK. ‘Through our modern Industrial Strategy we are making sure that Britain remains the natural choice for innovative firms to prosper – investing in the future of our country.’

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Bolte Award for Professor Graham RichardsBolte Award for Professor Graham Richards

Professor Graham Richards is to receive the 2018 Richard J. Bolte Sr. Award. The award, sponsored by the Science History Institute in the US, was created in 2006 to recognise the outstanding contributions of leaders who provide products or services vital to the continuing growth and development of the chemical and molecular sciences community. It will be presented on 9th May, the Institute's annual Heritage Day that celebrates the achievements and promise of the sciences and technologies that shape material culture. Graham is Chairman of Oxford Drug Design and served as Oxford's first Chairman of Chemistry from 1996 to 2006. He pioneered the use of computer-aided molecular design and organised the Screensaver Lifesaver Project —the largest ever computational chemistry project that made use of idle time on over 3.5 million personal computers to screen billions of compounds in the search for drugs to treat cancer and protect against anthrax and smallpox. He cofounded Oxford University Innovation, which has generated over £2 billion for the University and helped to create many successful technology companies.

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Science Policy Discussions in ParliamentScience Policy Discussions in Parliament

Dr Michael Booth, researcher in the Bayley Group, represented the Royal Society of Chemistry at the Voice of the Future event in Parliament on 13th March. Organised by the Royal Society of Biology on behalf of the science and engineering community, this ‘question time’ style annual event reverses the format of a normal select committee – so that MPs answer questions rather than ask them. Michael recorded the highlights from all four sessions. The main emphasis of the questions revolved around the impact of Brexit on the sciences, increasing diversity in STEM subjects, and the impact of ‘fake news’. A recording of the event can be watched on Parliament TV.

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OxSyBio raises £10mOxSyBio raises £10m

As reported in The Times, Chemistry spinout OxSyBio has raised £10m in investments. The research behind OxSyBio comes from the group of Oxford Nanopore founder Professor Hagen Bayley whose work explores chemical and synthetic biology. OxSyBio is developing 3D printing techniques with the aim of producing tissues that can be used for precision medicine and organ repair or replacement.

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RSC's Chemical Science Cover ArtworkRSC's Chemical Science Cover Artwork

An Edge Article by Robert Paton research group has been highlighted on the cover of the this month's Chemical Science RSC Journal. The paper describes the theory and data mining of cation-pi interactions in protein-ligand binging and reveal different roles for lysine and arginine. The artwork was designed by Karl Harrison.

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Levi Dash RetiresLevi Dash Retires

A reception in honour of Levi Dash was held on Monday 26th February. Levi retired this week after 39 years in the Department, having worked in Stores in the DP, ICL and PTCL. In the course of his long career Levi helped countless staff and students, always with great kindness and good humour. Prof. Chris Schofield, Head of Organic Chemistry, gave thanks. Levi will be much missed, and we wish him well!

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Martine Abboud selected for Lindau-Nobel meetingMartine Abboud selected for Lindau-Nobel meeting

Congratulations to Dr Martine Abboud for being selected to represent the University at the 68th Lindau-Nobel meeting this June in Germany. Martine is a Junior Research Fellow at Kellogg College and a postdoctoral researcher in the Schofield group. Once every year, Nobel Laureates convene at Lindau to meet the next generation of leading scientists. This year’s meeting is dedicated to physiology and medicine and will set two records with 43 Nobel Laureates attending and a diversity of participants from 84 countries of origin. Attendance is by nomination only and candidates go through competitive selection rounds. Since their founding in 1951, the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings have served to promote exchange, networking, and inspiration.

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Jacqueline Tan wins OXFEST Poster PrizeJacqueline Tan wins OXFEST Poster Prize

Jacqueline Tan - Paton research group - has won a poster prize at the OxFEST Annual Conference - STEMpower Her: Together We Rise! The conference aimed to give ways to harness and share individual strengths and experiences in order to collectively lift women in STEM. The movement to improve diversity in STEM thrives when we all work together.

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Physical chemistry of protein evolutionPhysical chemistry of protein evolution

Research from the Benesch group is published in Science today, determining mechanisms by which proteins evolve selectivity in assembly. In collaboration with the University of Massachusetts, the group has revealed that evolution achieves selectivity with remarkable economy, and how entropic considerations have left their imprint on the protein assemblies observed in nature.

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Lilly Prizes for Excellence in Organic Chemistry Research 2017Lilly Prizes for Excellence in Organic Chemistry Research 2017

The Lilly Prizes for Excellence in Organic Chemistry Research are awarded by Eli Lilly and Company Ltd. They are awarded for excellence in the first year of postgraduate study and are assessed on the quality of experimental work, written submission and viva voce at the point of examination for PRS transfer of status to DPhil. Dr Magnus Walter from Lilly’s came to award the prizes on Thursday 8 February.

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A new spinout company to transform plastic waste into sustainable fuelsA new spinout company to transform plastic waste into sustainable fuels

Oxford University Innovation has launched Oxford Sustainable Fuels, a new company that aims to reduce the environmental impact of plastic waste. The technology, based on research by Oxford chemists Professor Peter Edwards, Dr Tiancun Xiao and Dr Zhaoxi Zhang, enables the transformation of plastic into transportation fuels.

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Developing Safer Cancer TreatmentsDeveloping Safer Cancer Treatments

Professor Chris Schofield, Head of Organic Chemistry, together with Profs. Peter McHugh (Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine) and Opher Gileadi (Nuffield Department of Medicine) have been awarded a £1.6m grant from Cancer Research UK, as reported in the Oxford Mail. The five-year study will investigate metallo B-lactamases, a family of DNA repair proteins. Understanding how cancer cells repair damage to their DNA could help develop ‘kinder’ drugs that target cancer more effectively.

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Oxford Nanopore device used to sequence the human genomeOxford Nanopore device used to sequence the human genome

A handheld device developed by Oxford Nanopore, the spin-out company founded by Professor Hagan Bayley, has been used to sequence the human genome. The breakthrough, detailed in Nature Nanotechnology and reported by the BBC, used the MinION nanopore sequencer. Strands of DNA are passed through a biological pore and the bases that make up DNA can be identified by measuring changes in electrical conductivity. Rapid and portable DNA sequencing opens up exciting new possibilities in genetic medicine.

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Finding ways to make clean, sustainable batteriesFinding ways to make clean, sustainable batteries

Dr Hamish Yeung (Glasstone Research Fellow, Inorganic Chemistry) and his collaborator Prof. John Griffin of Lancaster University have made a short film about their ongoing research into the structure determination of new materials for cleaner, more sustainable battery technology.

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Molecular dynamics on the femtosecond timescale: a closer look at photochemical reactionsMolecular dynamics on the femtosecond timescale: a closer look at photochemical reactions

The first steps in photochemical processes, such as photosynthesis or animal vision, involve changes in electronic and geometric structure over extremely short time scales. The very fast dynamics of a prototypical system, acetylacetone, have been revealed in unprecedented detail by a team of researchers including Professor John Eland and colleagues in Sweden, Croatia, France and Italy. Their approach, based on high-resolution valence photoelectron spectra supported by high-level calculations, paves the way for in-depth investigations of a range of photochemical processes.

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Turning Carbon Dioxide into Fuel – A New UK-China-Saudi Arabia InitiativeTurning Carbon Dioxide into Fuel – A New UK-China-Saudi Arabia Initiative

A major new initiative brings together top scientists in the UK, China and Saudi Arabia to transform CO2 into super-clean fuel and other commodities. Professor Jinghai Li, recently appointed Director of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, is working with Professor Peter Edwards, Dr Tiancun Xiao and colleagues at Oxford and Cambridge and Prof Hamid Almegren of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia on an international and interdisciplinary project that opens up new and exciting possibilities for direct utilisation of CO2 at large-scale sources of fossil fuel combustion.

China is the world’s largest CO2 emitter, and Saudi Arabia the world’s largest oil producer. Despite major improvements in renewable energy technologies, the world still relies on hydrocarbon fossil fuels. Fossil fuel combustion in power plants and petrochemical industries is responsible for the greatest amount of anthropogenic emissions of CO2, one of the most potent greenhouse gases and a major cause of climate change. Mitigating the impact of CO2 with carbon capture and storage (CCS) brings its own challenges and is highly energy-intensive. The unique technology developed in the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology-Oxford Centre of Excellence in Petrochemicals uses a process called Flue Gas Reforming. Flue gases are converted to synthesis gas (syngas) that is perfectly suited for the production of a wide range of fuels and industrially important chemicals. This is achieved with new-generation, step-change catalysts that are designed to have minimal effect on a power plant’s generation capacity but are sufficiently robust to convert syngas into super-clean fuel or chemicals without the need for CCS. The next challenge is to ensure that the resulting energy/CO2 balance of the entire process is carbon-neutral or ideally, carbon-negative. This international, multidisciplinary approach represents a timely response to the historic achievements of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

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Exciting interim data from Summit's PhaseOut DMD clinical trialExciting interim data from Summit's PhaseOut DMD clinical trial

Summit Therapeutics plc, an Oxford spin-out company based on pioneering work by Professor Steve Davies, Professor Angela Russell and Professor Dame Kay Davies (Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics; DPAG) has announced that its candidate drug, ezutromid, currently in a Phase II clinical study for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), has significantly reduced muscle damage in patients with DMD. The findings come after evaluation of the trial's 24-week interim data. DMD is a devastating disease caused by the absence of a large protein called dystrophin in all muscle cells; patients are generally wheelchair bound by the age of 12 and die in their twenties. At present there is no effective treatment, but Summit's approach is to identify a drug that will increase the amount of the dystrophin-related protein utrophin in muscle. The latest results with ezutromid have shown a statistically significant and meaningful reduction in muscle damage as measured by a 23% decrease in mean developmental myosin (biomarker of muscle damage) in muscle biopsies at 24 weeks compared to baseline. Further, a total of 14/22 patients showed a decrease in development myosin, with five of those showing a greater than 40% reduction. The research team here at the Chemistry Department in collaboration with DPAG and Summit Therapeutics as part of the UtroDMD Alliance is currently building on the exciting ezutromid data to develop second and third generation utrophin modulators, thus driving pre-clinical studies towards developing a best-in-class therapy for DMD patients worldwide.

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Best talk award for Jutta ToscanoBest talk award for Jutta Toscano

Jutta Toscano, a DPhil student in the Heazlewood group, won the best talk award at the recent Spectroscopy and Dynamics Group (SDG) meeting in Durham. Jutta spoke about her work on “Making a pure beam of radicals”. The 2018 annual meeting of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s SDG group was held in Durham on January 8th-10th.

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Andrew Goodwin and Philipp Kukura honoured in Blavatnik Awards for Young ScientistsAndrew Goodwin and Philipp Kukura honoured in Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists

Professors Andrew Goodwin and Philipp Kukura are among the winners of the Inaugural Blavatnik Awards for young scientists in the United Kingdom. The Awards, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, honour and support exceptional early-career scientists and engineers and are the largest unrestricted cash prizes available exclusively to young scientists in the UK. A distinguished jury of leading senior scientists and engineers from throughout the UK selected the Laureates and Finalists.

Professor Andrew Goodwin has been named as the 2018 Chemistry Laureate. Professor Goodwin is a world leader in the study of the chemistry and physics of functional materials, which have unique magnetic, optical, and electrical properties. His work has revealed the role of structural disorder in these materials, and how this phenomenon can explain unique material properties such as negative thermal expansion, negative compressibility, and exotic magnetic states.

Professor Philipp Kukura has been named as a Chemistry Finalist. He is a physical chemist recognised for pioneering efforts in single-molecule scale microscopy and spectroscopy that enable the study of native, unlabelled molecules in real time. His particular focus is on biological macromolecules such as proteins as they interact with drugs or self-assemble with each other.

The Laureates and Finalists will be honoured at a gala dinner and ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on 7th March, 2018.

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Speaker Prize at the 11th Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Symposium for PostgraduatesSpeaker Prize at the 11th Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Symposium for Postgraduates

Oliver Coleman, 4th year DPhil student on the SBM CDT (AK & CJS groups), was selected as a speaker for the 11th Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Symposium for Postgraduates. At the event, organised by the RSC BMCS and hosted at the University of Cambridge on the 8th December, Oliver was awarded a runner-up prize for his presentation ‘Cyclic Peptide Inhibition of Epigenetic Reader Domains’. Congratulations!

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