Department of Chemistry   University of Oxford

News Stories from the Department of ChemistryRSS

Nature Chemistry PaperNature Chemistry Paper

A new catalyst for hydro-deoxygenation of biomass derived molecules to compounds of higher energy content based on Co atom doped single molecular layer MoS2 without any loss of sulphur in H2 is shown by Tsang group in collaboration with Oxford Materials. Leo Liu, Alex Robertson and Molly Li led to the development of this active but stable catalyst at elevated temperature.

more........

Susan Perkin's research picked as Editors's Suggestion in PRLSusan Perkin's research picked as Editors's Suggestion in PRL

Packing of big and small particles into confined space, such as packing of oranges and apples together in a box, undergoes a sharp transition in packing repeat distance when the fraction of big and small particles crosses a threshold. Recent experiments reported in Physical Review Letters demonstrate that this is also the case for big and small molecules confined to thin films. The observation has implications for controlling interactions involving thin films from electrochemical energy storage to lubrication.

more........

Highly commendedHighly commended

Congratulations to Miss Nichabhat Diteepeng (DPhil student, Mountford group) for receiving a Highly Commended award in the area of Pure Science for her research lecture at the recent 9th Samaggi Academic Conference, Imperial College London run by The UK Thai Association. The title of the lecture was Alkaline Earth Organohydroborate Complexes for the Ring-Opening Polymerisation of rac-Lactide­­.

more........

5,000 reasons to celebrate Act on Acceptance at Oxford5,000 reasons to celebrate Act on Acceptance at Oxford

2,400 researchers across the University have uploaded their new accepted manuscripts to Oxford's institutional repository ORA since April 2016. The 5,000th article processed by the ORA team was a paper by Yunqing Zhu and Professor Charlotte Williams from the Department of Chemistry. Entitled 'Sustainable polymers from renewable resources', it was published in Nature in December 2016. In accordance with publisher permissions the ORA copy will be made freely available to all 6 months after publication through the ORA record (which also links to the published version which can be read now by those with institutional or individual subscription access). In order to be eligible for the next REF, journal articles accepted since 1 April 2016 must be deposited in an open access repository within 3 months of acceptance.

more........

UBC International Visiting Research ScholarsUBC International Visiting Research Scholars

Veronique was selected as one of the International Visiting Research Scholars by the Peter Wall Institute of Advances Studies. The scheme aims at bringing some of the world’s best scholars to the University of British Columbia. The Institute's goal is to stimulate creative, innovative research in a highly collaborative environment at UBC where the scholars have sustained opportunity to exchange ideas with national and international scholars, develop new thinking and engage in intellectual risk-taking. Past awardee from the department includes Professor Andrew Weller who was elected in 2013.

more........

Honorary Doctorate for Professor Paul BeerHonorary Doctorate for Professor Paul Beer

A ceremony was held at the University of Murcia, Spain, on Friday 27th January to confer an honorary doctorate on Paul Beer. Over the past three decades, research in the Beer group has made major contributions to the field of host-guest chemistry, which adds to the fundamental knowledge of how one molecule recognises and interacts with another. This understanding enables the production of molecular devices, sensors and switches that promise to make significant long-term impacts in environmental monitoring, personalised healthcare and diagnostic medicine.

Professor Beer thanked his hosts in Murcia, saying “I am grateful for the academic friendships that transcend borders and distances, for the friendships that allow us jointly to explore the world in which we live, and for the friendships that enable us to share together in our successes.”

more........

Nature Chemistry PaperNature Chemistry Paper

A catalytic enantioselective route to BINOLs from Martin Smith’s group is published in Nature Chemistry this week. Work from John Jolliffe and Roly Armstrong led to the development of a dynamic kinetic resolution approach that affords these valuable compounds with high levels of efficiency and selectivity.

more........

 Novartis Chemistry Lectureship 2016–2017 Novartis Chemistry Lectureship 2016–2017

Professor Darren J Dixon has been awarded the 2016-2017 Novartis Chemistry Lectureship. The Lectureship is awarded to recognize outstanding research in the areas of organic and computational chemistry, including applications to biology. As part of the Lectureship Dixon will travel to and present lectures at Novartis Research Institutes in Basel, Switzerland, Cambridge, US and Emeryville, US.

more........

Highlighting innovation at OxfordHighlighting innovation at Oxford

Broadcast on 13th January, Professor Angela Russell was interviewed for regional news programme BBC South Today. Co-founded by Prof. Steve Davies and Prof. Angela Russell, Oxford spin-out OxStem Ltd was highlighted as a major success story for Oxford University Innovation (“OUI”), the University of Oxford’s technology transfer office. OUI celebrated a record-breaking year in 2016 facilitating 24 spin-out companies representing £52.6m of investment; five of the 24 new spin-outs were OxStem companies, amounting to £16.9m of the total investment into the University

more........

Novel antibiotics from Oxford Chemistry Spin OutNovel antibiotics from Oxford Chemistry Spin Out

The US Center for Disease control reported on Jan 13th the death of a woman who died from a bacterial infection "resistant to all available antimicrobial drugs". Such a high level of resistance is currently, thankfully, rare; however, the increase in infections resistant to multiple drugs is no longer uncommon and a major and growing concern.

Bacterial resistance mechanisms, such as the New Dehli Metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM) present in the reported bacterial infection, can easily spread through a population and tend to confer resistance to multiple drugs of the same class. Thus, while new variants on existing drugs are useful, they can suffer from rapid emergence of resistance.

InhibOx the spin-out from Oxford University Chemistry Department has antibacterial drug discovery programmes which are focused exclusively on novel mechanisms of action. Drugs using these novel mechanisms are expected to be effective against bacteria resistant to existing drug classes, and indeed, InhibOx’s patented lead compound is effective against bacteria containing the NDM resistance mechanism.

Prof. Graham Richards, InhibOx Chairman said: "We are applying our unique computational chemistry technology to the design of new antibiotics to treat the most serious infections. The early results are promising, and if successful would deliver a new class of antibiotics and make a very valuable contribution to address the drug resistance crisis”.

more........

Two Nature papers published this week from Dame Carol Robinson's groupTwo Nature papers published this week from Dame Carol Robinson's group

Nature’s glue holds proteins in place for key functions. Fascinating structures of membrane proteins are emerging, and each one is being admired scientists for the intricacy of its construction. Meanwhile, the roles of much smaller molecules hidden within are now starting to gain a little attention.

In the first of two papers in this week’s journal Nature doi:10.1038/nature20820, Professor Carol Robinson and her group explore their hypothesis that weak protein interactions require an additional ‘glue’ to connect them. Research, led by Dr. Kallol Gupta, a Fellow of the 1851 Royal Commission, took on a systematic database search of all alpha helical membrane proteins that form assemblies. “I wasn’t sure where this was going initially; I was concerned that it might not lead anywhere” Robinson says.

But soon the unexpected link they had hoped for began to emerge: more lipid (fats) were needed when the strength of attraction was weak. In other words, if proteins can’t stick together on their own—lipids will help cement their interactions. These findings have important consequences: they explain how membrane proteins involved in key cellular processes—including alcholism, touch, sensation and pain—come together, often fleetingly, to form functional units.

In the second paper (doi:10.1038/nature20828), Robinson’s group contributed to defining proteins in microorganisms that populate the large intestine. This was as part of a wider collaboration, led by Professor Bert van den Berg and researchers at Newcastle University. Structures of two nutrient import proteins on the cell surface were solved using crystallography and were shown to function with a mechanism like a pedal bin, with SusC forming the bin and SusD the lid. After capture, the lid closes and the small molecule moves into the bin for transport into the cell. Robinson’s team applied mass spectrometry to define the number of interacting units and to expose the presence of small molecules, this time hidden within the bin.

Together, these papers set the stage for applying mass spectrometry to inform drug design for receptors on the surfaces of human cells, and for the microbiome in the gut—targets linked to addiction, anxiety, obesity and cancer.

more........

Professor Dame Carol Robinson Inspires Primary School PupilsProfessor Dame Carol Robinson Inspires Primary School Pupils

BBC Oxford reports that Dame Carol gave an impromptu science lesson at a primary school after receiving a letter from 8 year old pupil Connie Gordon, who wrote "..when I grow up, I want to be a professor of Chemistry like you. I would love it if you could come into my class and talk to us." After the visit, Connie said "Today's kind of changed me a bit. I've realised how chemistry is useful to the world and helps people."

more........

Best Flash TalkBest Flash Talk

Dr Timothy Barendt, a Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church in Inorganic Chemistry, was awarded a prize for the “Best Flash Talk” at the RSC Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry Meeting on 16th December 2016 in Edinburgh for his presentation on “Anion Driven Molecular Machines”. The award was made by one of the 2016 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, Professor Sir Fraser Stoddart. Tim works alongside Prof. Paul Beer on anion-induced molecular motion in interlocked rotaxane and catenane molecular architectures.

more........

On the Cover of Angewandte ChemieOn the Cover of Angewandte Chemie

Recent work from second year SBM-CDT student, Moses Moustakim from the Dixon and Brennan (SGC) Groups has been selected as a ‘Hot paper’ by editors at Angewandte Chemie. The communication describes the development of the first potent, selective and cell active PCAF Bromodomain Chemical Probe. The work has also been selected to feature on the rear cover of the issue, and this artwork was designed by Karl Harrison

more........

RSC Poster Symposium Prize for Martin PeeksRSC Poster Symposium Prize for Martin Peeks

Congratulations to Martin Peeks for winning a prize for his poster titled “Aromaticity and antiaromaticity in a molecular nanoring” at the RSC Organic Division Poster Symposium in London on 5 December. Martin is a D.Phil. student in Harry Anderson’s group. (Image copyright Royal Society of Chemistry/ MPP Image Creation Limited.)

more........

Salters’ Graduate Prize for Alice GreenSalters’ Graduate Prize for Alice Green

Graduate student Alice Green has won the 2016 Salters' Graduate Prize. Alice was recognised for her work at St Andrew's University before she came Oxford to join Professor MacKenzie's research group. Alice was presented with her prize at the Salters' Institute Annual Awards Ceremony which celebrates high levels of excellence within the science education sector. Dr Annette Doherty, Senior Vice President Product Development and Supply at GlaxoSmithKline who delivered a keynote address and presented the Awards at the Ceremony. Dr Annette Doherty, Senior Vice President Product Development and Supply at GlaxoSmithKline who delivered a keynote address and presented the Awards at the Ceremony.

more........

Oxford Chemistry Alumnus Rob Simion launches Enzbond, a new biotechnology companyOxford Chemistry Alumnus Rob Simion launches Enzbond, a new biotechnology company

EnzBond, a new biotechnology company from Oxford University, has been formed to commercialise in-silico technology, which makes utilising enzymes in drug manufacturing both cost-effective and time-efficient. EnzBond's in-silico technology allows the company to examine the potential properties of these enzymes virtually, rapidly speeding up the process. EnzBond is also the first Oxford spinout developed by students since NaturalMotion, which was sold to games company Zynga for $527m in one of the largest spinout exits on record. Typically, spinout companies are either led or advised by an academic founder. In the case of EnzBond, the founders did everything from develop the underlying technology to pitching the technology to pharmaceutical partners and investors while PhD students, and officially founded the company upon completion of their studies.

more........

Nature paper by Professor Ben Davis HighlightedNature paper by Professor Ben Davis Highlighted

A Nature paper by Professor Ben Davis has been highlighted in the Telegraph, FT and DailyMail. The paper science discusses a crop spray which can boost farmer's wheat yields by one fifth, without the need for genetic modification. The team at Oxford and Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire, decided to try increase yields by helping plants use sugar more efficiently. They created a spray that contains a molecule called sugar trehalose 6-phosphate (T6P). T6P controls how wheat uses sucrose, the main fuel generated during photosynthesis. Sucrose is vital to the development of wheat grains, so the more T6P that is available to grains as they grow, the bigger the yield. When T6P molecules were added to a solution and sprayed on the wheat plants it created a ‘pulse’ which resulted in more sucrose being drawn into the grain to make starch which increased wheat grain size and yield by 20 per cent.

more........

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

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 December.

more........

Protein disrupts cystic fibrosis biofilmsProtein disrupts cystic fibrosis biofilms

Professor Stuart Conway’s group and collaborators at Caltech have made progress in the fight against biofilms, layers of metabolically active but slowly growing bacteria embedded in a protective layer of slime that are resistant to antibiotics. The researchers identified a protein that degrades and inhibits biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the primary pathogen in cystic fibrosis (CF) infections. Their work is described in a new paper in the journal Science

more........

Roel Dullens ERC successRoel Dullens ERC success

Prof Roel Dullens has been offered a Consolidator Grant in the latest round of ERC grant awards under the Condensed Matter Physics panel of the Horizon 2020 Framework. The €2.0M project is entitled “Optical Manipulation of Colloidal Interfaces, Droplets and Crystallites” and will fund a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to the study of interfacial phenomena in colloidal systems, described by referees as “ambitious and exceptionally original”

more........

Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Practical Prizes 2016Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Practical Prizes 2016

Six chemistry students were honoured for their practical work in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry at the Physical & Theoretical Chemistry Part II Open Day and Wine Reception, sponsored by Wiley. The winning students were: 1st year: Jiratheep Pruchyathamkorn (Merton) and Felicity Massingberd-Mundy (Oriel) 2nd year: Katherine Macfarlane (Oriel) , Ayush Prasad (Worcester), Bruno Marinic (St Johns) 3rd year: Cromarte Rogers (Trinity)

more........

OxStem Cardio launchedOxStem Cardio launched

A fourth subsidiary of OxStem Ltd, an Oxford spin-out co-founded by Prof. Steve Davies and Prof. Angela Russell has been launched (17th November 2016). OxStem Cardio, co-founded with Prof. Roger Patient (Professor of Developmental Genetics Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine) and Prof. Paul Riley (British Heart Foundation Professor of Regenerative Medicine), aims to identify drugs that will restore lost tissue following a heart attack by inducing cardiovascular regeneration, in order to improve cardiac function. This collaborative project will be funded within the University over the next three years following OxStem’s record £16.9M initial fundraise earlier this year.

more........

Pfizer Second Year Graduate Poster Symposium 2016Pfizer Second Year Graduate Poster Symposium 2016

Congratulations to Wasim Akhtar (Tim Donohoe’s group), Katrina Badiola (Martin Smith’s group), Tim Markovic (Michael Willis’ group) and Dan Kohn (Harry Anderson’s group) on winning the Pfizer poster prizes. The poster session followed the Pfizer Organic and Chemical Biology Symposium talks by Dr. Simon Lewis (University of Bath), Dr. David Blakemore (Worldwide Medicinal Chemistry, Pfizer) and Dr. Carmen Galan (University of Bristol).

more........

Radio 4 interviews Professor Charlotte Williams about her researchRadio 4 interviews Professor Charlotte Williams about her research

Professor Charlotte Williams talks to BBC Radio 4’s “Costing the Earth” in an episode examining potential uses for climate-changing carbon dioxide. She discusses her group’s research into the development of catalysts that will allow us to use carbon dioxide to make plastics

more........

ACS Citation for Chemical Breakthrough SymposiumACS Citation for Chemical Breakthrough Symposium

On Wednesday 2 November a one-day symposium was held marking the award of an ACS Citation for Chemical Breakthrough to Oxford Chemistry for the report of the structural determination of penicillin by Dorothy Crowfoot-Hodgkin and Barbara Rogers-Low. It is the 75th anniversary of the first human trials of penicillin carried out in the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford. Since those trials, beta-lactam antibiotics have become a powerful clinical weapon against infection and a success story of modern medicine. The Department was pleased to welcome Dr Peter Morris, who presented the award, and the external speakers, Prof. Chris Dowson, Prof. Achillefs Kapandis, Dr Allen Orville, Dr John Pavey, Dr Jim Spencer, Prof. Frank von Delft, Prof. Tim Walsh.

more........

BioBeat Movers and Shakers 2016BioBeat Movers and Shakers 2016

Prof Angela Russell has been named as a 'Rising Star' in the BioBeat 50 Movers and Shakers in BioBusiness 2016 report. Released annually, the report celebrates 50 outstanding women entrepreneurs and business leaders who are recognised for their contributions to global health innovation. BioBeat’s founder Miranda Weston-Smith said that the report highlights those women who are "transforming today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities" and are inspirational "pioneers who are setting the pace in laboratories, healthcare, entrepreneurial companies ..." among others. Angela Russell, Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Departments of Chemistry and Pharmacology at the University of Oxford and co-founder of OxStem Ltd (www.oxstem.co.uk) said "I am delighted to have been recognised in this report standing alongside some exceptional bioscience business leaders in the field. Our research at OxStem has the potential to impact on the healthcare of millions worldwide with the approach of developing small molecule drugs in a wide range of therapeutic areas including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and heart failure. I hope that my nomination, together with the women featured in this report, helps to inspire the next generation of bioscience entrepreneurs".

more........

Nature Commun Paper Highlighted.Nature Commun Paper Highlighted.

A strategy for 'bottling' elements as diverse XRF-phores in celluar biology just published in Nature Commun. has been highlighted in the university's Science Blog. Professor Ben Davis said: 'This work was part of a training network across Europe known as RADDEL that was launched based on an earlier discovery that radioactive iodide could be packed into sealed tubes to be used in living animals. This new research has expanded on that finding, creating a spectacular system that encapsulates much more difficult elements and images these in cells using the rarely used technique of XRF. We have been able to use this method to see how the tubes find their way into different compartments in individual cells, controlled largely by how we chemically "decorate" those tubes.

more........

Howard Prize Lecture of the Biophysical Sciences Institute at DurhamHoward Prize Lecture of the Biophysical Sciences Institute at Durham

Professor Justin Benesch was awarded the Howard Prize Lecture of the Biophysical Sciences Institute at Durham for his work on the role of dynamics in the assembly, activity and evolution of proteins. The international award is named in honour of Professor Judith Howard CBE FRS, and previous winners include David Nelson (Harvard), Sarah Veatch (Michigan) and Arwen Pearson (Hamburg).

more........

Work from Aldridge group highlighted in Nature ChemistryWork from Aldridge group highlighted in Nature Chemistry

Work from former Marie Curie post-doctoral fellow Arnab Rit in the Aldridge group has been highlighted in Nature Chemistry. The original paper – published in the same issue of the journal – describes the first example of a stable group 14 vinylidene compound.

more........

back /more news

validSearch for

About this Site and Accessibility. November 2009 Update. © Copyright 1995-2009 University of Oxford