Cleaner methods for deuterium insertion will have applications across the life sciences
Deuterium is used in applications such as analytical chemistry and drug development. More recently deuterium has been used in an active pharmaceutical ingredient to prevent formation of a toxic metabolite. Research by the HydRegen team in the Vincent group has led to a new approach for deuterium insertion using the cheapest and cleanest deuterium source - D2O. New methods for deuterium insertion may help unlock the power of the kinetic isotope effect in drugs, providing more effective medicines with lower side effects.
RSC poster prize win for Richard Avadanutei
Congratulations to Part II student Richard Avadanutei from the Dr Malcolm Stewart group, winner of the RSC Poster Twitter Conference in the Higher Education category for his poster entitled 'Optimising and implementing a first year skills workshop on solid-state chemistry and investigating its pedagogical effects using an intervention design in a control study.'
The poster conference, held online over 24 hours on March 3rd, attracted 4700 attendees, uniting the global chemistry community and bringing together presenters and attendees to share their research, network and engage in scientific debate. Scientific discussions took place between presenters and attendees at every career stage, with over 9900 tweets leading to a potential audience of 32 million Twitter users.
Oxford Nanopore leads sequencing coronavirus
Oxford Nanopore is working with a number of public health laboratories, in China and elsewhere, to support the rapid sequencing of the novel coronavirus that was first seen in Wuhan, China.
Sequencing the virus can support 'genomic epidemiology'- characterising the virus and helping public health authorities to understand the identity of the virus, whether it is changing and how it is being transmitted - all in conjunction with other epidemiological data.
The BBC highlighted work here in the UK to use the Oxford Nanopore MinION to rapidly sequence each case of coronavirus so far in the UK, so that the individual mutations could be tracked and thus discover the pathways of the spread of infections.
Two outstanding Oxford Chemists selected for Lindau Nobel meeting
Congratulations to Sebastian Kopp and Dr Vanessa Restrepo-Schild who have been selected to represent the University at the 70th Lindau Nobel meeting to be held in Germany from June 28 to July 3. Vanessa is a postdoctoral researcher in the Bayley group, and Sebastian is a DPhil student in the Anderson group and OxICFM CDT. Sebastian and Vanessa will join around 660 other outstanding young scientists this year and have the unique opportunity to meet around 70 Nobel Laureates for cross-generational and interdisciplinary exchange.
Francesco Ibba takes his research to Westminster
Francesco is attending Parliament to present his findings to politicians and expert judges as part of STEM for Britain 2020. Originally from Genova (Italy), 29, is a final year PhD student at the University of Oxford in the Gouverneur group. Francesco's poster describing his research on fluorine chemistry will be judged against fellow scientists' research in the only national competition of its kind.
"I am thrilled to take part to this wonderful initiative, I believe that a crucial aspect of doing research is to popularize science and make it accessible to everyone. I am looking forward to share my passion for chemistry during my day in Westminster."
The final of the 2020 STEM for BRITAIN event will take place at the Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, Westminster on Monday 9th March 2020. The Attlee Suite is named after Clement Attlee, the first Labour Prime Minister and University of Oxford alumni, who was responsible for establishing the Welfare State.
"This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country's best young researchers."
"These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and STEM for BRITAIN is politicians' best opportunity to meet them and understand their work."
The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee runs the event in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Biology, The Physiological Society, the Council for the Mathematical Sciences, and the Nutrition Society with financial support from the Clay Mathematics Institute, United Kingdom Research and Innovation, Warwick Manufacturing Group, Society of Chemical Industry, Institute of Biomedical Science, the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research, the Biochemical Society, Biotherapy Services Ltd, IEEE Communications Society and the Comino Foundation.
On the cover of Nature Chemistry: Bigging up aromaticity
Work from Oxford on large aromatic rings is featured on the cover of the March issue of Nature Chemistry. The authors of the paper are Michel Rickhaus, Michael Jirasek, Lara Tejerina, Henrik Gotfredsen, Martin D. Peeks, RenÃ©e Haver, Hua-Wei Jiang, Timothy D. W. Claridge and Harry L. Anderson.
Green ammonia could slash emissions from farming - and power ships of the future
In an article first published in the Conversation, Professor Bill David writes about a Royal Society report that shows producing zero-carbon green ammonia could cut global carbon emissions by almost 2 per cent.
Benoit Darlot takes his research to Parliament
Mr Benoit Darlot is attending Parliament to present his findings to politicians and expert judges as part of STEM for Britain 2020. Originally from Le Mans in France, Benoit, 29, is a DPhil candidate in Synthesis for Biology and Medicine at the University of Oxford's Department of Chemistry. Benoit's poster describing his research on new molecules derived from tick saliva proteins to address inflammation will be judged against fellow scientists' research in the only national competition of its kind.
Benoit was shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament. On presenting his research in Parliament, he said: 'It is an incredible honor to have been selected to present my work at the STEM for BRITAIN event. To showcase state of the art research funded by taxpayers to law makers is a great opportunity to emphasize the importance and use of public funding in science. I hope that during that day I can give awareness about what academics in partnership with industry can deliver to address a serious public health issue, in my case inflammatory diseases.'
STEM for Britain, which will take place at Portcullis House on Monday 9 March, is an opportunity for the UK's brightest and best early career scientists to share their research with MPs. Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said: 'This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country's best young researchers. These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and STEM for BRITAIN is politicians' best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.'
Benoit's research has been entered into the chemistry, mathematics and physics session of the competition, which will end in a gold, silver and bronze prize-giving ceremony. Judged by leading academics, the gold medalist receives 2000 GBP, while silver and bronze receive 1250 and 750 respectively.
The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee runs the event in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Biology, The Physiological Society, the Council for the Mathematical Sciences, and the Nutrition Society with financial support from the Clay Mathematics Institute, United Kingdom Research and Innovation, Warwick Manufacturing Group, Society of Chemical Industry, Institute of Biomedical Science, the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research, the Biochemical Society, Biotherapy Services Ltd, IEEE Communications Society and the Comino Foundation.
Royal Society Pairing Fellow: From Lab Bench to Backbench
Oxford scientist visits Westminster
Dr Martine Abboud, a JRF at Kellogg College and a member of the Schofield group, has been selected as one out of 30 scientists to take part in the Royal Society Pairing Scheme. Dr Abboud will be swapping a lab coat for legislation when she visits the Houses of Parliament and Whitehall for a week in Westminster, as part of a unique pairing scheme run by the Royal Society with support from the Government Office of Science. The Royal Society's pairing scheme aims to build bridges between parliamentarians, civil servants and some of the best scientists in the UK.
During her visit, Dr Abboud will shadow Anneliese Dodds MP (Oxford East) and learn about her work. As well as attending seminars, panel discussions and a mock Select Committee about how evidence is used in policy making. The visit will provide Dr Abboud with a behind the scenes insight into how policy is formed and how her research can be used to make evidence-based decisions. It will also give Dodds MP the opportunity to investigate the science behind her decisions and improve their access to scientific evidence.
Dodds MP will get hands on experience of scientific research when she dons a lab coat to visit Dr Abboud at Oxford Chemistry and Kellogg College later this year.
Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said, "It is crucial that we invest in the relationship between scientists and politicians, so that either profession can articulate and appreciate the pressures confronted by both. The Royal Society Pairing Scheme does just this, endowing scientists with a fascinating insight into parliament, and connecting policymakers with the best innovative thinking in the world, and in the process, enabling both to draw from and engage with the mutual expertise needed to address the challenges of our time."
Vacancy disorder study published in Nature
Nature has published an article from Andrew Goodwin's group that concerns the nature of disordered pore networks in Prussian Blue analogues. The article is one of the first key studies to exploit three-dimensional pair-distribution function methods and is the subject of a related 'News & Views' article and journal podcast. The work was carried out with collaborators in France, Sweden, Mexico, Switzerland, and Belgium, and was supported by the ERC and Leverhulme Trusts
MPLS Impact Awards 2020 winners
MPLS Impact Awards aim to recognise and reward researchers at all career stages, for research that has had, or will have significant social or economic impact.
For the COMMERCIAL IMPACT AWARD category, Professor Justin Benesch and Professor Philipp Kukura, Department of Chemistry: awarded for contributions made by Justin and Philipp to the development of technology for a new way of measuring mass: mass photometry
Professor Darren J Dixon Opens Pharmaron's New Chemistry Laboratories at Hoddesdon
Pharmaron's ties with Oxford Chemistry were made even stronger on Wednesday when Professor Dixon appeared as the guest speaker at the Hoddesdon site and performed the official Lab opening ceremony. The labs are part of a multi-million pound inward investment in UK science by Pharmaron; a CRO that offers integrated solutions for clients' needs from Discovery services through to the clinic. The investment at Hoddesdon in chemistry is intended to service the rapid growth in the uptake of those services by western clients.
Photo: DJD with Pharmaron's Dr Kevin Foote (VP, Head of Drug Discovery Services Europe) and Dr Anthony Davies (Senior Vice President Process R&D, Process Chemistry)
The largest aromatic ring: published in Nature Chemistry and highlighted in Chemistry World
A paper from Harry Anderson's group in Nature Chemistry (DOI: 10.1038/s41557-019-0398-3) shows that Huckel's simple 4n + 2 rule correctly predicts the aromatic ring currents in rings with up to 162 pi-electrons. The work is highlighted in Chemistry World. See also 'Behind the Paper' https://go.nature.com/30CS7pa.
Duarte group work in JACS
New work from Tom Young in the Duarte Group has been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The article introduces a simple and efficient computational methodology to evaluate binding and catalysis in self-assembled metallo-cages; revealing how subtle structural differences in the cage framework affect the catalytic Diels-Alder proficiencies of two homologous Pd2L4 metallocages. This research provides new opportunities in the design catalytically active supramolecular cages.
Sir Jack Baldwin FRS
Memorial service for Professor Sir Jack Baldwin
We are sorry to announce that the Memorial Service for Professor Sir Jack Baldwin will have to be postponed to later in the year. An announcement of the new date will be made as soon as possible
It is with great sadness that we inform you that Prof. Sir Jack E. Baldwin passed away last weekend. JEB was one of the heroes of Organic Chemistry and will be missed across the globe.
Sir Jack E. Baldwin FRS (8 Aug 1938- 5th Jan 2020), JEB to his group, was a colossus of Organic Chemistry. Following PhD work at Imperial College with Sir Derek Barton (who described him as his best student), he took up positions at Pennsylvania State University then MIT, where he met his beloved wife, Christine. In 1978 he was appointed Waynflete Professor of Chemistry, a position he held until retirement in 2005, and Head of the Dyson Perrins Laboratory. Along with Perkin, Robinson, and Jones he was one of only four holders of the Waynflete chair in the 20th century. He made many contributions to Organic Chemistry, famously in defining widely used rules for ring closure reactions, providing the first chemical insight into how penicillins are made, inventing reactions, biomimetic studies, and many beautiful total syntheses, as described in more than 700 papers. As Head of the Dyson Perrins Laboratory he upgraded its facilities and revolutionised the type of work done there, building links between Organic Chemistry and basic biological research. JEB's passion for mechanistic aspects of Organic Chemistry was communicated to generations of young coworkers, who have gone on to successful careers in academia and industry across the globe. As in work, he lived retirement with Christine to the full, in particular enjoying extensive scientific reading, good food, fine wine, fast cars, and his Labrador dogs.
Arylhydrocarbon Receptor as the molecular target of ezutromid
A collaboration between the Russell group (Chemistry and Pharmacology) and the Davies group (Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics) has identified, via a chemical proteomics and phenotypic profiling strategy, the arylhydrocarbon receptor (AhR) as the molecular target of ezutromid, the utrophin modulator that recently completed a Phase 2 clinical trial in Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients.
Ezutromid (formerly SMT C1100) was identified through phenotypic screening approach, and developed as a first-in-class utrophin modulator for the treatment of the severe muscle wasting disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). The clinical trial showed promising efficacy and evidence of target engagement after 24 weeks of treatment, but these effects were not seen after the full 48 weeks of the trial. Without knowledge of the mechanism of action of ezutromid, it was difficult to rationalise the lack of sustained clinical efficacy, and development of ezutromid was discontinued.
In this work, we demonstrate through a series of target identification and validation studies that ezutromid binds to AhR with high affinity, and antagonism of AhR by ezutromid leads to utrophin upregulation, thereby confirming AhR as a viable target for utrophin functional replacement therapies. This work paves the way for the first target-based disease modifying drug discovery program in DMD.
Poster prize for Laura Bickerton
Laura Bickerton (Langton group) has won the Chemical Science outstanding poster prize at the RSC Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry meeting held at the University of Kent, for her work on transmembrane anion transport carried out in collaboration with the Duarte and Beer groups.
RSC BMCS Presentation Prize
Jessica Reynolds (Conway Group and SBM CDT) has won first prize at the 13th BMCS Postgraduate Symposium held at the University of Cambridge for her oral presentation on design and synthesis of chemical tools for probing the function of the epigenetic reader protein TRIM33.
PDB Molecule of the Month
Schofield Group structural work on oxygen sensing systems that contributed in part to this years Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (awarded to Sir Peter Ratcliffe, Bill Kaelin and Greg Semenza) are currently highlighted as "Molecule of the Month" at the RCSB PDB. Prolyl and asparaginyl hydroxylase enzymes modify the hypoxia inducible factor transcription factor and modulate its activity. A drug which targets the prolyl hydroxylases for the treatment of anaemia in CKD patients has recently been approved for clinical use (Roxadustat, Ai Rui Zhuo) in China and Japan and other drugs have recently completed Phase III clinical trials in the US.
Michael Booth Biochemical Society Biotechnology Award Medal and Lecture
Dr Michael Booth was presented with the 2019 Biochemical Society Early Career Research Award in Biotechnology at the Synthetic Biology UK 2019 Conference at the University of Warwick on 9th December 2019. Professor John McCarthy of the Warwick Integrative Synthetic Biology Centre presented Michael with his Biochemical Society Medal. At the conference Michael presented his award lecture 'Controllable synthetic tissues from droplet networks'
Professor Susan Perkin's Research Published in PNAS
New work from James Hallett and Alex Smith in the Perkin group resolves a long-standing mystery about dynamic transitions occurring in liquids confined to films or pores of molecular dimensions.
Previous reports of 'solidification' and 'superlubricity' appeared to be conflicting, but the new experiments reveal the details of how each of these phenomena occur and explains how they can be reconciled.
Selective substrate processing at single-atom resolution in a nanoscale tube
Researchers from the University of Oxford's Department of Chemistry have constructed a tubular protein nanoreactor that can selectively process polymers with atomic specificity.
Selective processing is achieved by nanoscale alignment of a substrate within a protein nanotube modified with a reactive group. The substrate is first pulled into the nanotube and extended by an applied electric field. Only substrates that are properly aligned, by design, with the reactive group on the nanotube are then processed. The system is versatile, allowing the reaction site to be altered by changing the design of the nanoreactor, the substrate, or both to obtain the desired alignment.
Using a collection of tubular nanoreactors, the authors processed various substrates containing a disulfide bond at a precise sulfur atom, demonstrating the ability to distinguish between two (or more) similar sites within a given functional group (regioselectivity) and within a given molecule (site-selectivity). Substrate processing was monitored at the single-molecule level, allowing the type of adduct formed to be identified based on the ionic conductance of the nanoreactor. Selective processing would not have been achievable in bulk solution, where differentiation of similar reactive sites is difficult if not impossible. Substrate turnover was also achieved by allowing a small molecule to diffuse into the nanotube to regenerate the reactive site after each cycle.
The full paper, Catalytic site-selective substrate processing within a tubular nanoreactor, can be read in the journal Nature Nanotechnology DOI: 10.1038/s41565-019-0579-7
ERC Consolidator Grant for Emily Flashman
Dr Emily Flashman has been awarded a prestigious Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). Consolidator grants are designed to support outstanding researchers at the career stage at which they may still be consolidating their own independent team or programme, and applicants must demonstrate the ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of their proposals. Emily's award will fund her research on plant oxygen-sensing enzymes and how to manipulate them in order to make plants better able to tolerate flooding.
Novel Gouverneur group Fluorination Catalyst now commercially available
A novel bis-urea organocatalyst for asymmetric fluorination with metal fluoride is now commercially available on Sigma Aldrich-Merck website.
Recently developed in the Gouverneur group (Science and J.A.C.S.), this novel class of phase-transfer catalysts allows for the first time the use of safe and low-cost alkali metal fluorides in asymmetric catalysis. By overcoming the intrinsic poor solubility of KF (and CsF) in common organic solvents, these catalysts form a soluble tridentate hydrogen-bonded complex with metal fluorides thus enabling highly efficient enantioselective transformations.
Young Modellers Forum 2019 Prizes
Alistair Sterling (Duarte and E. Anderson group) and Stamatia Zavistsanou (Duarte group) have won prizes at the Young Modellers Forum 2019 held at the University of Greenwich on the 29th of November 2019 (https://www.mgms.org/WordPress/conferences/ymf-2019/). Alistair, 3rd-year DPhil student in the SBM CDT programme, won a prize for his talk on the reactivity of [1.1.1]propellane. Stamatia, 2nd-year Dphil student, won a poster prize for her work on machine learning for catalyst design.
Compton group research develops novel pH sensors
A novel carbon-based electrode, which is electrochemically optimised to perform pH measurements over a wide range is the subject of a new licensing deal between Oxford University Innovation (OUI), the research commercialisation arm of Oxford University, and electrochemical sensor developer ANB Sensors.
These sensors are the latest in a long line of commercial pH sensors developed in the Department of Chemistry by the Compton group. ANB Sensors have expertise in developing pH calibration free pH sensors, with applications in industries ranging from water management, ocean research, environmental monitoring through to chemical processing and pharmaceuticals.
Professor Compton said: "pH is crucial in many areas such as water, food, oil, chemicals and pharmaceuticals and is thought to be the most frequently made analytical measurement. Yet, despite the vital role of pH sensing, the vast majority of measurements still rely on the glass pH electrode developed by Beckmann almost 100 years ago! My group in Oxford has worked for two decades on providing robust, accurate, self-calibrated alternatives for pH determination, suitable for use in all possible applications."
Dr Nathan Lawrence, CTO of ANB sensors continues: "Richard's group have made a significant step forward in developing this novel carbon-based electrode, which is electrochemically optimised to perform pH measurements over a wide range. It is also suitable for pH measurements at varying temperatures. The carbon-based material is readily available, cost-effective and doesn't require any extra reagents or surface modifications."
Dr Jamie Ferguson of OUI adds: "It's great to be working with Nathan and his colleagues at ANB Sensors. They really understand the development of electrochemical sensors and have a great appreciation of their customers' requirements. We are looking forward to hearing about ANB's success in the market."
Scientific Glassblower Terri Adams featured in Nature
Scientific Glassblower Terri Adams, who is based in the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory at the Department of Chemistry, talks about her work and career in an interview for the journal Nature.
Highlighted in Science and in Nature Chemistry Reviews
Recent work from the Burton and Paton groups has been highlighted in Science and in Nature Chemistry Reviews. This work involved the characterisation of complex tricyclic oxonium ions, proposed intermediates in natural product biosynthesis, and their conversion into numerous halogenated natural products. moreâ€¦
ODD spin-out receives over £2 million to take its drug discovery programme to the next level
Oxford Drug Design wins UK-China AMR grant and boosts funding with investment from the
Oxford Drug Design Limited (ODD), a biotechnology company with a
proprietary computational and machine learning platform, has raised a combined £2.2M in funding
from the Angel CoFund (ACF), o2h Ventures and other new investors, and grant funding from the UK
Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)'s UK-China research competition. This brings the
firm's total amount of grant and equity funding raised in 2019 to over £9M.
Chemistry Periodic Magazine 2019 Edition
A new edition of Periodic, the Department of Chemistry's annual magazine, has now been published online. The issue includes: News & Achievements, Remembering Professor Sir John
Rowlinson, New Research, Professor Charlotte Williams, Making it Happen â€¢ Transparent, Recyclable,
Low-Energy Food Packaging, Oxford HighQ, A New Centre for Doctoral Training, Innovations in Teaching, Sharing the Joys of Chemistry, Letters from Alumni, Working with Industry, Using Virtual Reality to Explain Chemistry and Celebrating a Century of Student Research.
Pfizer-sponsored Symposium Poster Prizes
Many congratulations to Antoine De Gombert (Michael Willis group), Lorel Scriven (Harry Anderson group), Pablo Martin-Baniandres (Hagan Bayley group) and Pernille Bols (Harry Anderson group) for winning poster prizes at the Pfizer-sponsored Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology Symposium on 31st October 2019. The winners are pictured here with judges, Dr David Blakemore (Pfizer), Dr Anna Barnard (Imperial College London), Prof Alan Spivey (Imperial College London), and Ian Moses (Pfizer).
Highlighted paper in Nature Catalysis
Collaborative work between the O'Hare and Tsang groups (University of Oxford) and Prof. Jun Li's group (Tsinghua University) has just been published in Nature Catalysis. This work shows that molecular dinitrogen can be used to reduce the activation energy for catalytic hydrodeoxygenation, transforming biomass into fuel in a sustainable way.
Poster prize for Ysobel Baker
Ysobel Baker (Brown group) has won a poster prize at the Oligonucleotide Therapeutic Society meeting in Munich (October 2019) for her work on backbone-modified locked nucleic acids for therapeutic applications. Yssy is funded by a BBSRC grant (Follow-on-Funding).
Professor Sir Christopher Dobson
Members of the Department were saddened to learn of the death of Sir Christopher Dobson on September 8th. He died peacefully at the Royal Marsden Hospital, surrounded by his family.
As an undergraduate, DPhil student and research fellow, and later lecturer, reader and professor, Chris spent more than 30 years in the Department of Chemistry. It was here that he first began his groundbreaking research into protein aggregation and its role in Alzheimer's disease.
Professor Dame Carol Robinson said: "Beyond his research Chris was an inspirational mentor who transformed the lives of many around him, myself included."
Reaxys PhD Prize 2019
Dr Yujia Qing from the Bayley research group, University of Oxford, is one of the three winners of the Reaxys PhD Prize 2019! Selected from this year's 45 finalists, the 3 winners were awarded on Friday October 4 during the Reaxys Prize Symposium in Amsterdam.
Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2019
John Goodenough and his group pioneered the development of lithium transition metal oxide battery cathode materials in Oxford; without this work, and that of his co-recipients the rechargeable lithium-ion battery (and arguably the modern connected world) would not exist. His decade in charge of the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory at the University of Oxford (1976-1986) created a field of research that continues to thrive here in Oxford. Prof. Goodenough is further distinguished by making notable contributions to scientific knowledge in every decade since the 1950s, crossing disciplines and defining new ones. Into his 90's he continues to be active in the development of compounds for battery anodes and cathodes.
Photo Credit - University of Texas.
Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2019
Stanley Whittingham, currently at Binghamton University (SUNY), has been awarded a share of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for work carried out at Exxon in the 1970s exploring the possibility of using lithium titanium sulphide as the cathode in a rechargeable battery system making use of reversible intercalation chemistry. This paved the way for the future discovery of the high voltage LiCoO2 cathode by Goodenough, which was later integrated into a commercial full battery with the development of the anode system by the third co-recipient Akira Yoshino. Whittingham was an undergraduate in Chemistry at New College, Oxford in the 1960s and obtained his D.Phil. in Inorganic Chemistry with Peter Dickens.
On the cover of Journal of Computational Chemistry
Collaborative work between Jonathan Doye and Ard Louis (Physics) and groups in Rome, Trieste, Venice, Arizona State and Tempe has featured on the front cover of the 5 November issue of the Journal of Computational Chemistry. The paper introduces the tacoxDNA webserver and standalone software tools that further facilitate the inter-operability of DNA nanotechnology computer-aided design tools and modelling at different levels of spatial resolution. In particular, these tools will make it easier to use oxDNA, a coarse-grained model of DNA developed into Oxford, to study large DNA nanostructures, such as DNA origami.
On the Cover of RSC ChemComm
The paper describes the optimisation of fluorescent oligonucleotide substrates for the DNA repair protein, XPF-ERCC1. The protein, which cuts DNA to remove damaged nucleic acid bases, has been found to be upregulated in cancers resistant to vital DNA crosslinking chemotherapeutics, such as Cisplatin. The research aims to accelerate inhibitor discovery for XPF-ERCC1 which is currently an untapped drug target.
The work was carried out in Tom Brown's Chemistry lab, as well as Peter McHugh's lab at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, and Neil McDonald's lab at the Francis Crick Institute. The collaboration was done through the Oxford-GSK-Crick Chemical Biology DTC.
The cover illustration was designed and created by Dr Karl Harrison.
Prelog Medal for Professor Veronique Gouverneur
Professor Veronique Gouverneur has been awarded the Prelog Lecture for 2019 and medal. The yearly held Prelog Lecture is organized by the ETH Zurich Laboratory of Organic Chemistry. The Prelog Lecture was established 1986, in order to honour the Nobel Prize (1975) winning Professor Vladimir Prelog for his extraordinary merits for the science and the industry in Switzerland.
On the cover of Science
A paper from Oxford Chemistry and IBM Zurich, on the imaging C18 rings, is featured on the cover of Science, 20 September 2019.
Alexei Likhtman Prize
James Hallett (PDRA in the Perkin group) was awarded the Alexei Likhtman Prize for best poster at the 4th Edwards Soft Matter Symposium, hosted annually at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge, UK.
Nature Communications Editors' Highlights
A recent chemical compass paper in Nature Communications by Christian Kerpal and Sabine Richert from the Timmel, Hore, Mackenzie collaboration has been picked up as an editor's highlight.
New work in Angewandte Chemie
A new paper by DFG Fellow Dr Bertold Rasche and researchers from the Compton and Clarke groups in cooperation with the DIAMOND synchrotron has been published as a VIP Communication in Angewandte Chemie. The paper reports the precise, post-synthetic electrochemical control of the composition of an iron-based superconductor, with simultaneous tracking of the crystal structure by means of in-situ synchrotron X-ray diffraction. While the superconductivity is shown to be independent of the compositional changes in contrast to earlier reports, further in-situ experiments reveal how minor traces of oxygen destroy the superconducting properties. The latter process can be reversed electrochemically. The work demonstrates the exquisite control afforded by electrochemistry in comparison to classical approaches to chemical synthesis.
On the Cover of RSC ChemComm
Research from Jürgen Brem, Chris Schofield and colleagues highlighted on the latest cover of Chemical Communications. The group's work, highly regarded by reviewers and editors, identified cysteine-targeting reagents as leads for L,D-transpeptidase inhibitors for the development of antibiotics against tuberculosis. Work done in collaboration with GSK Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation.
Hot Article In Angewandte Chemie
The work of Ruiyang Mao and Lifu Chen, in collaboration with Professor Lidong Shao (Shanghai), has been published as a hot article entitled "Electron Transfer to Decorated Graphene Oxide Particles" in the prestigious Angewandte Chemie journal. See https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.201907393. The paper notes that Graphene oxides (GOs) are popular catalyst supports for precious metals in nanoparticle form and investigates the hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR) and the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) on individual GO platelets decorated with Pd nanoparticles (Pd/GOs). The results reveal that the catalytic activity is confined to the zone physically close to the point of electrical contact between platelet and electrode with just a fraction of the platelet active. The work has been highlighted in Nature Reviews Materials.
Poster Prize for Rachel Sim
Rachel Sim, an Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)-funded DPhil student in the AJR group, was awarded the penultimate year poster prize at the chemical biology conference ChemBiOx 2019, in Oxford. Rachel presented her work on developing affinity and fluorescent probes to elucidate the mechanism of small molecule modulators of neurogenesis.
Jack Cox Plate Winners 2019
The chemistry department has been taking part in the University inter-departmental cricket tournament - the Jack Cox Plate. The team (consisting of DPhil students and Professors) won the competition, beating Materials in the final by 7 wickets.
Science paper on imaging C18
Cyclocarbon has been synthesised on bilayer NaCl on Cu(111) at 5 K, and characterised by atomic force microscopy, revealing its polyynic structure. This is the first time that a cyclocarbon has been studied in a condensed phase or structurally characterised. The work is part of a collaboration between Harry Anderson's group in Oxford and Leo Gross at IBM Zurich, Switzerland.
Engineering new signalling networks to produce crops that need less fertiliser
An interdisciplinary research collaboration between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge has engineered a novel synthetic plant-microbe signalling pathway that could provide the foundation for transferring nitrogen fixation to cereals.
Published in Nature Communications today, the team of plant scientists, microbiologists and chemists used synthetic biology techniques to design and then engineer a molecular dialogue between plants and the bacteria surrounding their roots in a zone called the rhizosphere. This synthetic signalling system could be a vital step towards successfully engineering nitrogen-fixing symbiosis in non-legume crops like wheat and maize.
Further work in the Poole, Oldroyd and Conway laboratories will focus on how plants can control key processes in root bacteria such as nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilisation and plant growth promotion. This opens up the world of the bacterial microbiome and its diverse metabolism to control by plants and in particular the cereals. It is likely to be a key component in attempts to engineer nitrogen fixation into cereals.
Poster prizes for Michael Jirasek, Lorel Scriven and Henrik Gotfredsen.
Three members of Harry Anderson's group won poster prizes at the International Symposium on Novel Aromatic Compounds, 21-26 July 2019, Sapporo, Japan. Congratulations to Michael Jirasek, Lorel Scriven and Henrik Gotfredsen.
Sir Rex Richards Hon FBA FRS 1922-2019
We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Professor Sir Rex Richards, who died peacefully at his home on July 15th at the age of 96. Sir Rex was Dr Lee's Professor of Chemistry from 1964 to 1969, when he became Warden of Merton College. He would go on to serve as Vice-Chancellor of the University from 1977 to 1981.
One of the most distinguished chemists of his generation, Sir Rex pioneered the early use of NMR and its application to the determination of unknown molecular structures. He became a leading figure in the design and development of NMR equipment and his contributions to the advancement of the technique stimulated other research across a wide range of scientific disciplines.
Sir Rex's outstanding work earned him numerous awards and distinctions, including a knighthood in 1977, honorary degrees from thirteen universities, the Davy Medal and Royal Medal of the Royal Society, the Corday-Morgan Medal of the Chemical Society, the President's Medal of the Society of Chemical Industry and the Medal of Honour of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms UniversitÃ¤t, Bonn. The Rex Richards building in the University Science Area is named in his honour.
Dr Francis Rossotti
It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Dr Francis Rossotti, former University Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry, and Fellow and Tutor in Inorganic Chemistry at St Edmund Hall. Dr Rossotti died on July 15th, aged 92. He is survived by his wife Hazel (who was a tutor and Fellow in Chemistry at St. Anne's College) and their two children. Dr Rossotti's family will hold a memorial service after the summer which friends and colleagues are welcome to attend.
Photograph of Dr Rossotti courtesy of St Edmund Hall.
Using Virtual Reality to explain Chemistry
Rhoslyn Roebuck Williams and Izzy Creed from the Theory and Modelling in Chemical Systems (TMCS) Centre for Doctoral Training went to The Royal Society alongside students from Bristol and Southampton to use Virtual reality (VR) to explain anti-biotic resistance to members of the general public on Tuesday the 2nd July.
Other students from TMCS (Harry Stroud, Izzy Creed, Jillisa Thompson and Tristan Johnston-wood) have also used the new VR kit to explain the importance of Theoretical Chemistry to prospective undergraduates in this years open day.
Poster prize for Lisa Thompson
Dr Lisa Thompson, postdoctoral researcher in the Vincent group, has won a prize for her poster on H2-driven biocatalysis in flow at the 14th International Symposium on Biocatalysis and Biotransformations (BioTrans 2019), in Groningen, The Netherlands. The BioTrans symposium showcased recent advances in biocatalysis research, covering various cutting edge topics in the field, and Lisa's prize-winning poster was one of only four selected from over 500 entries.
Stuart Conway becomes President of the RSC Organic Division
Professor Stuart Conway began his presidency of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Organic Division on July 10th. The RSC's Organic Division, which has 8700 members across education and industry, aims to encourage and promote advances in organic chemistry and works with other RSC Divisions to encourage the development of new and emerging areas of science.
Stuart is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the EP Abraham Cephalosporin Fellow in Organic Chemistry at St Hugh's College. His research interests focus on the use of organic chemistry to solve biological problems. He has particular interests in developing molecular tools to study epigenetic phenomena, and in developing methods to target and image hypoxia. The Conway group's research has been recognised by the award of the 2012 EFMC Prize for a Young Medicinal Chemist in Academia, and the 2016 Lectureship from the Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Stuart's election as President of the Organic Division makes it a hat-trick for Oxford Chemistry at the RSC, as Professor Dame Carol Robinson is its current President, and Professor Claire Vallance is President of the Faraday Division.
Flashman group work contributes to study published in Science revealing conserved oxygen-sensing mechanism in plants and humans
A collaborative project between the Ratcliffe group (NDM, Oxford), Licausi group (PlantLab, SSSUP, Pisa) and the Flashman group (Chemistry, Oxford) has revealed that an N-terminal cysteine dioxygenase in humans acts to control the stability of target proteins in an oxygen-sensitive manner. This mechanism is identical to oxygen-sensing cysteine dioxygenases in plants, which control plant responses to low oxygen (hypoxic) events such as flooding. The work broadens our understanding of cellular responses to hypoxia, a feature common to many disease states. Masson N et al (2019) Science 365:65-69. Picture by Mikel Lavilla and Beatrice Giuntoli.
Institute of Physics Isaac Newton Medal and Prize
Professor Sir Michael Pepper FRS, the physicist whose fundamental work has led to applied topics such as the development of a new way of detecting skin cancers, has been awarded the Institute of Physics Isaac Newton Medal and Prize - given for world-leading contributions to physics.
Sir Michael, Visiting Professor at Oxford, Emeritus Professor Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge and Pender Chair on Nanoelectronics at University College London, has been awarded the IOP's most prestigious medal for the creation of the field of semiconductor nanoelectronics and discovery of new quantum phenomena.
Prizes for poster and talk
At the recent RSC ESR group conference in Glasgow, CAESR students Ben Tucker and Gabriel Moise won the International EPR society poster prize and the prize for the best student flash talk, respectively.
Prof James McCullagh book Mass Spectrometry.
The most clear, concise, and accessible introduction to the basic principles of mass spectrometry.
Prof James McCullagh (Director of the Mass Spectrometry Research Facility) has recently had a new book published on Mass Spectrometry in the Oxford Chemistry Primer series. This is an introductory text aimed at providing a clear and accessible account of the basic principles of mass spectrometry and its modern applications at a final year undergraduate and graduate level.
• Focused introductions designed to give students an in-depth understanding of a diverse range of important topics in modern chemistry
• Frequent diagrams, margin notes, and definitions support students in their learning
• Questions at the end of every chapter and interactive online questions encourage active learning and promote deep understanding
• Provides a clear and accessible first introduction to the basic principles of mass spectrometry
• Reflects the practical elements of mass spectrometry which are an increasingly important focus of undergraduate studies
• Includes mathematical content tailored to the specific needs and abilities of an undergraduate audience
• Supplemented by numerous real-life examples, interesting facts about the technique, and links to other textbooks which provide more detailed coverage
Podcasts of Hinshelwood Lectures 2019
The Hinshelwood Lectures 2019 - Shedding New Lights to Light-Matter Interactions, a series of 4 lectures delivered by Professor Jun Ye (JILA / NIST & University of Colorado) in the annual Hinshelwood lecture series have now been made available as video podcasts. The four lectures cover the themes: Control of Light: Frequency Comb Spectroscopy from IR to UXV; A Quantum Gas of Polar Molecules; Quantum Matter and Atomic Clocks; and Search for the Electron EDM Using Molecular Ions.
Oxford Drug Design receives funding to develop new antibiotics
Oxford Drug Design, a Department of Chemistry spinout company founded by Professor Graham Richards, has been awarded funding of up to $2.55 million to develop a new class of antibiotics to treat drug-resistant Gram-negative infections. The funding comes from CARB-X, a global non-profit partnership led by Boston University and dedicated to accelerating research and development to address the rising global threat of drug-resistant bacteria.
Poster prizes for Wenjun Xu
Congratulations to Wenjun Xu for winning the Prize for Best Science Poster at the Centre for Plastic Electronics Annual Symposium 2019 (London, 10-11 June) for his poster on the unusual length dependence of conductance in cumulene molecular wires.
Royal Society announces 2019 recipients of the Entrepreneurs in Residence award
Dr Alan Roth, Director, Fitzroy Partners Ltd, is to be one of the fifteen entrepreneurs, senior scientists and business leaders were appointed as Royal Society Entrepreneurs in Residence. The recipients will help commercialise world-leading research and address skills gaps in industries like energy, transportation and data science by using their real-world experience to help foster an entrepreneurial culture within universities and develop curricula that produce industry-ready graduates. The successful applicants are funded to spend 20% of their time over two years with their host university and collaborators, sharing their experiences to help mentor and support students and academics. The scheme has now funded placements in 24 universities across the UK and will be re-opening for a third round in June 2019.
Alan Roth aims to accelerate their impact and adoption by building entrepreneurial capabilities of the students and faculty who create them and promoting activities that strengthen the University's interactions with industry
Controlling molecular collisions through bond-axis orientation
Research from the Brouard group published online in Nature Chemistry this week demonstrates how the initial orientation of a molecular bond-axis can be used to control the collision outcome. The article, entitled 'Side-impact collisions of Ar with NO', highlights how such 'stereodynamical' measurements of molecular collisions provide new insight about the quantum mechanical scattering mechanism.
AstraZeneca-sponsored Graduate Symposium Prizes
Many congratulations to Max Haughey (TJD group), Elias Post (SPF group), Daniel Lucy (AJR group) and Peter Smith (DJD group) for winning prizes for their talks at the AstraZeneca-sponsored Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology Final Year Graduate Symposium. The winners are pictured here with judges, Dr Bill McCoull and Dr Dave Klauber, from AstraZeneca.
Copley Medal for Professor John Goodenough
Professor John Goodenough, former head of the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, has been awarded the Royal Society's Copley Medal, the world's oldest scientific prize. Previous awardees have included Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, Albert Einstein and Dorothy Hodgkin.
Professor Goodenough been honoured for his exceptional contributions to materials science, including his work at Oxford that led to the invention of the rechargeable lithium battery, a breakthrough that ushered in a new age of portable electronic devices.
On hearing the news, Professor Goodenough said 'Words are not sufficient to express my appreciation for this award. My ten years at Oxford were transformative for me, and I thank especially those who had the imagination to invite a U.S. non-academic physicist to come to England to be a Professor and Head of the Oxford Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory.'
Now aged 96, Professor Goodenough continues to work on new battery technology at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is the Virginia H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering.
Image: Professor John Goodenough (centre, front row) and colleagues outside the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory in 1982.
Professor Ben Davis elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences
Professor Ben Davis is among 50 leading UK scientists to be elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. The new Fellows have been selected for their outstanding contributions to advancing medical science, cutting edge research discoveries, and translating developments into benefits for patients and wider society. The Academy of Medical Sciences is the independent body in the UK representing the diversity of medical science and its elected Fellows are the UK's leading medical scientists from hospitals, academia, industry and the public service.
Research in the Davis group centres on the chemical understanding of biomolecular function, especially carbohydrates and proteins. Interests and methods encompass organic synthesis & methodology, target biomolecule synthesis, inhibitor/probe/substrate design, biocatalysis, enzyme & biomolecule mechanism, biosynthetic pathway determination, protein engineering, drug delivery, molecular biology, structural biology, cell biology, molecular imaging and in vivo biology. The application of an understanding of such systems on a fundamental level leads to the design, synthesis and modification of potential therapeutic and biotechnologically applicable systems
RSC Tilden Prize for Professor James Naismith
Professor James Naismith is the recipient of one of this year's Tilden Prizes from the Royal Society of Chemistry. The Tilden Prizes are awarded for advances in chemistry, and winners complete a UK lecture tour and receive Â£5000, a medal and a certificate. Professor Naismith's prize is in recognition of his career-long breakthroughs in structural and chemical dissection of natural product biosynthesis.
RSC Norman Heatley Award for Professor Justin Benesch
Professor Justin Benesch is the recipient of the 2019 Norman Heatley Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry. The Norman Heatley Award is given to recognise and promote the importance of inter- and multi-disciplinary research between chemistry and the life sciences through independent work. The winner receives Â£2000, a medal and a certificate, and will complete a UK lecture tour. Professor Benesch receives his award for developing physicochemical approaches to deliver quantitative insight into molecular chaperones in health and disease.
Receiving the award, Professor Benesch said: "I am delighted to receive the Royal Society's Norman Heatley Award. The interface between chemistry and the life sciences is an incredibly vibrant area, with many UK-based researchers producing brilliant insights into the chemical foundations of biological function. In this context, I am extremely pleased for the recognition the award brings to my research group and our collaborators, highlighting their enthusiasm to harness the principles and tools of physical chemistry to deliver unprecedented insights into biological mechanism"
RSC Corday-Morgan Prize for Professor Roel Dullens
Professor Roel Dullens has been awarded a 2019 Corday-Morgan Prize from the Royal Society of Chemistry. The Corday-Morgan Prizes are awarded for the most meritorious contributions to chemistry, and the winners complete a UK lecture tour and receive Â£5000, a medal and a certificate. The prize was awarded to Professor Dullens for his
world-leading research to elucidate definitive experimental answers to fundamental problems in condensed matter science. Receiving the award, Professor Dullens said: "I am delighted and very honoured to receive this prestigious Prize. I particularly value the fact that this prize recognises the importance of fundamental research, which in my case is in the field of condensed matter science. I am looking forward to delivering the various lectures about my work."
RSC Organic Stereochemistry Award for Professor Veronique Gouverneur
Professor Veronique Gouverneur is the recipient of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Organic Stereochemistry Award for 2019. This award is given for studies of stereochemistry related to structure, reactivity or synthesis. The winner, who will complete a UK lecture tour, receives Â£2000, a medal and a certificate. The prize was awarded to Professor Gouverneur for her creative work in stereoselective fluorine chemistry and asymmetric catalytic fluorination with metal alkali fluorides.
Oxford Chemistry top of the league
The Complete University Guide has ranked the Department first in its latest league table for Chemistry. The independent guide provides prospective students with information on entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects. Oxford Chemistry scored highly on all measures to achieve top ranking with an overall score of 100.
Lilly 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 Jeffery Richardson from Lilly's came to award the prizes on Tuesday 30 April.
The winners of the Lilly prizes for the year 2017-2018 are:
Lucy van Dijk (Supervisor: Stephen Fletcher)
Antoine de Gombert (Supervisor: Mike Willis)
Charlotte Hoskin (Supervisor: Hagan Bayley)
Brian Josephson (Supervisor: Ben Davis)
Owen Smith (Supervisors: Jonathan Burton, Martin Smith, and Rob Paton)
Richard Surgenor (Supervisor: Martin Smith)
Ruirui Zhang (Supervisor: Mark Moloney)
Sydney Brenner (1927-2019)
Professor Sydney Brenner, Nobel Prize winning biologist and Oxford Chemistry alumnus, has died aged 92. Born in South Africa, Brenner read medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand before coming to Oxford to take a DPhil under the supervision of Sir Cyril Hinshelwood, who had interests in the application of physical chemistry to biology. After gaining his doctorate in 1954, Brenner moved to Cambridge where he worked with Francis Crick and James Watson who had recently established the structure of DNA. Brenner went on to make several seminal contributions to the emerging field of molecular biology, co-discovering the existence of messenger RNA and demonstrating that the nucleotide sequence of mRNA determines the order of amino acids in proteins. His pioneering work with the tiny roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans made it the first animal for which a complete cell lineage and neuronal wiring were known, and led to the joint award of a Nobel Prize. Brenner and his colleagues John Sulston and Robert Horwitz received The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002 "for their discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death". Their research gave scientists a model to test the fundamental ways in which all living organisms work and led to new advances in the understanding of human disease.
John H.D. Eland honored by the University of Gothenburg
Professor John H.D. Eland has been appointed honorary doctor at the Faculty of Science, University of Gothenburg.
John H.D. Eland is well known for his pioneering efforts in the development of coincidence methods in atomic and molecular physics and he has for a long time worked closely with researchers at the University of Gothenburg. In connection with his retirement in 2006, two coincidence instruments were transferred to Sweden, which now constitutes an important part of the infrastructure for atomic and molecular physics at their Department of Physics.
John H.D. Eland was surprised, pleased and highly honored by the appointment. I had no idea this was coming until the phone rang and the Dean of the Faculty gave me the news.
John H.D. Eland has been a regular visitor to the University of Gothenburg's Department of Physics and between 2015 and 2018, he has been guest professor at the department. The collaboration has resulted in several doctoral theses, two new coincidence instruments used by several national and international universities."It has been a privilege and a pleasure to be able to interact and to collaborate with Swedish scientists over many years, in fact over almost half a century, and this is a most happy culmination", says John H.D. Eland.
John H.D. Eland explains that the physics of atoms and molecules is a rather mature field, not half as new and hot as, for instance, elementary particles, cosmology or exo-planetary science. "Nevertheless, there is still much to learn and to do, and our work impinges surprisingly closely on those forefront fields. I hope to continue to contribute to those endeavors with measurements and analysis, but most of all I hope to continue to innovate by developing new experimental techniques to answer questions on which up to now we have only theories."
Professor Raimund Feifel will be hosting John H.D. Eland during the conferment ceremony on 18 October. Professor Hans Linderholm from the University of Gothenburg's Department of Earth Sciences will be presenting the honorary doctor.
Henrik Mouritsen has been appointed as Visiting Professor in Chemistry for a period of 3 years from 1 April 2019. He is a distinguished biologist at the University of Oldenburg in Germany with a world-leading research programme on the mechanisms of animal navigation and magnetoreception. He has been awarded three large research grants jointly with members of the Department of Chemistry, the most recent being a 6-year European Research Council Synergy Grant, "QuantumBirds". The Oxford part of this project, which also started on 1 April, is a collaboration with Peter Hore, Christiane Timmel, Stuart Mackenzie, David Manolopoulos, and Justin Benesch.
Best Talk Prize for Joseph Wang
Joseph Wang, a 3rd year DPhil student in the Fletcher group, received the prize for Best Talk at the SCI 30th Regional Postgraduate Symposia on Novel Organic Chemistry at Imperial College London. The title of his talk was 'Synthesis of the Taxol core using asymmetric 1,4-additions'
On the Cover of RSC Dalton Transactions
Research from Zoë Turner, Philip Mountford and colleagues is featured on the latest cover of Dalton Transactions (artwork credit: Karl Harrison). The work, nominated as a HOT article by the editors and reviewers, describes the development of a new hybrid "scorpionate" ligand system, together some new Group 2 and 12 complexes and their performance in the topical area of ring-opening polymerisation catalysis.
Bronze award for Isabel Wilkinson at the STEM for Britain reception 2019
Isabel Wilkinson, a SABS-CDT DPhil student in the Russell group, was awarded the Bronze award (Chemistry section) for her poster at the STEM for Britain exhibition at the House of Commons on Wednesday 13th March. STEM for BRITAIN aims to raise the profile of Britain's early-stage researchers at Westminster by engaging Members of both Houses of Parliament with current science, engineering and mathematics research being undertaken in the UK. Isabel presented her research on identifying drug targets for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a project in collaboration with Prof Dame Kay Davies (DPAG) and Dr Kilian Huber (Nuffield Department of Medicine)
Dr Cynthia Amaning Danquah
Dr Cynthia Amaning Danquah is visiting the Department of Chemistry (10-30th March 2019) for collaborative research with the Schofield Group. Dr Danquah is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Pharmacology at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology in Ghana and her research focuses on natural product drug discovery to tackle multidrug-resistant infections.
Cynthia received a travel grant from the Africa Oxford Initiative (AfOx) that enabled her to visit Oxford to work on a collaborative project with Professor Schofield. Her scientific collaboration with Professor Schofield will be in the area of combating multidrug resistant tuberculosis; specifically finding compounds that are possible inhibitors of L,D-Transpeptidases. She looks forward to working on a joint research funding application for the MRC/DFID African Research Leader scheme and building links with Oxford to generate new antibacterials.
2nd Prize at the 6th RSC/SCI Retrosynthesis Competition
Dana Aynetdinova (Part II), Tim Kwok (3rd year DPhil), Ciaran Lunt (SBM CDT) and Mihai Popescu (SBM CDT) won the 2nd prize at the final of the 6th National Retrosynthesis Competition, celebrated at the SCI Headquarters (Belgrave Square, London) on Friday 15th March. This annual event showcases the calibre of UK chemists from both industry and academia and provides a platform for them to demonstrate their retrosynthetic and forward synthetic skills. Following a preliminary selection round, eleven teams were selected to enter the final - including another team from Oxford Chemistry comprised of five students from the SBM CDT 2018 cohort.
The four students from the Donohoe and Smith groups presented an innovative and reliable route to Aconicarmisulfonine A that placed them on the second set of the podium this year. This places Oxford Chemistry on the top three positions of this competition in all six of its editions. Many congratulations!
Armstrong Group research highlighted in Nature
Work from the Armstrong group in collaboration with colleagues at Oxford Materials and Manchester Institute of Biotechnology has been highlighted in Nature. The Nature article 'Enzymes trapped and zapped for use outside cells' discusses the researchers' recent paper in Angewandte Chemie entitled 'Electrocatalytic Volleyball: Rapid Nanoconfined Nicotinamide Cycling for Organic Synthesis in Electrode Pores.'
Macro Group UK Medal for Professor Charlotte Williams
The Macro Group UK Medal is awarded annually to a UK based scientist who has made a significant and substantial contribution to the development of polymer science through his/her scientific achievements and/or services to the UK polymer science community.
The 2018 award has been made to Professor Charlotte Williams (Oxford University) and Professor Sebastien Perrier (University of Warwick/Monash University). The Pure and Applied Macromolecular Chemistry Group (Macro Group UK) is a joint interest group of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Society of Chemical Industry. Charlotte will receive her medal at a one day symposium in November 2019.
Isabel Wilkinson to present her research to Parliament
Isabel Wilkinson, a DPhil Student in the Russell group, is attending Parliament to present her chemistry research to a range of politicians and a panel of expert judges, as part of STEM for BRITAIN on Wednesday 13 March.
Isabel's poster on research about drug targets for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy will be judged against dozens of other scientists' research in the only national competition of its kind.
Isabel was shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament.
On presenting her research in Parliament, she said, 'I'm really excited to share my research on target discovery for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy with MPs and to learn more about the research done by others around the country. Science communication to a non-scientific audience is hugely important and I'm delighted to take part.'
Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said:
'This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country's best young researchers.
These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and STEM for BRITAIN is politicians' best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.'
Isabel's research has been entered into the chemistry session of the competition, which will end in a gold, silver and bronze prize-giving ceremony.
Judged by leading academics, the gold medalist receives 2,000 GBP while silver and bronze receive 1,250 and 750 respectively.
The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee runs the event in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Biology, The Physiological Society and the Council for the Mathematical Sciences, with financial support from the Clay Mathematics Institute, United Kingdom Research and Innovation, Warwick Manufacturing Group, Society of Chemical Industry, the Nutrition Society, Institute of Biomedical Science, the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research, and the Comino Foundation.
Novozymes Prize for Professor Dame Carol Robinson
Professor Dame Carol Robinson has been awarded the 2019 Novozymes Prize for her scientific breakthroughs in the use of mass spectrometry for proteome analysis. This prize of 3 million Danish Krone from the Novo Nordisk Foundation aims to raise awareness of basic and applied biotechology research and is awarded to recognise outstanding contributions in research or technology that benefit the development of biotechnological science for innovative solutions.
Roel Dullens wins 2019 McBain award
Professor Roel Dullens has been selected for the 2019 McBain award. The McBain Medal, named after James William McBain (1882-1953), a Canadian colloid chemist, is an annual award to honour an early career researcher or technologist who has made a meritorious contribution to colloid and interface science.
Roel's research interests cover a wide range of topics in soft condensed matter, including two-dimensional systems, grain boundaries and other defects in colloidal crystals, interfaces in colloidal systems and driven colloidal systems in external fields such as optical or magnetic fields. A one-day symposium will run in December 2019 at which Professor Dullens will formally receive his award.
New Centre For Doctoral Training In Inorganic Synthesis
The Oxford Inorganic Chemistry for Future Manufacturing Centre for Doctoral Training (OxICFM CDT) is a new £10.4m EPSRC-funded centre which will train the next generation of synthesis scientists.
OxICFM is centred in the Department of Chemistry of the University of Oxford, and integrates faculty from the Departments of Materials, Physics and Engineering, both in our training programme and collaborative projects.
We offer a fully-funded four year course comprised of taught courses and a forty-two month substantive research project. Our CDT brings together over forty academics, ten industrial partners (spanning diverse size ranges), and seventeen international centres of excellence in synthetic inorganic chemistry.
Our focus is on inorganic synthesis - spanning length scales from molecular to nano-scale and extended materials - and our goal is to equip and enable a new generation of scientists capable of addressing critical societal challenges.
Meet our Researchers
Oxford Chemistry has a vibrant and diverse community of postdoctoral researchers and fellows, and we will be featuring some of their profiles on the Chemistry website over the coming weeks. We begin with Dr Lisa Thompson and Dr Hamish Hepburn, who share their stories about being inspired to study chemistry, and discuss their current research as well as their plans for the future.
Synthetic retina research highlighted in the FT
The Financial Times has highlighted the work of Vanessa Restrepo-Schild, researcher and doctoral student in the Bayley group who is developing a synthetic retina that could mimic natural human processes. In the article on biomimicry, Vanessa describes the exciting new possibilities that her work opens up.
Prize for best poster presentation
Daniel Lucy, a BHF CRE funded DPhil student in the Russell group, has won a prize for best poster presentation at Pharmacology 2018, in London. The conference is the flagship meeting of the British Pharmacological Society and attracts over 1100 researchers from around the world. Daniel's research titled "Biased GPR84 agonists cause distinct functional effects in macrophages" was performed in collaboration with Prof. David Greaves at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in Oxford.
On the Cover of RSC ChemComm
Aimee Taylor who created the cover illustration wrote the following: "Scientifically, the background represents several things as follows. The pencil marks on graph paper represent pharmacokinetic (PK) curves. Each row was drawn using a different hardness of pencil from 2H to 9B. The resulting shades of horizontal grey represent the nuanced control and stability that covalently bonding the inhibitor to a side chain affords relative to an inhibitor covalently bonded at the target oxygen sensing enzyme active site. When viewed from a distance the small PK curves give the illusion of wide bands. This micro-to-macro impression represents the dynamic equilibrium that results from the movement of the inhibitor in and out of the active site. Artistically, three artists inspired the rendering of the background: Josef Albers, Agnes Martin and Alighiero Boetti. The foreground consists of an abstract representation of the inhibitor and a computer graphic of the protein to which it is bound. The circle represents movement. Initially the spokes of a wheel or fan inspired it. I also considered optical illusions of moving spirals. However, in the end I settled on a more abstract representation, referencing Sonia Delaunay's Rhythm Colour no. 107, whose 'rhythm' seems apt to capture the dynamic nature of the covalently bound inhibitor".
2019 BMCS International Travel Prize for Jack Hardwick
Jack Hardwick, DPhil candidate in the Brown group, has been awarded a travel prize from the Royal Society of Chemistry. The prize, awarded by the RSC's Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector, will support Jack's attendance at the 6th Nucleic Acids Conference, Nassau, Bahamas in February, in which he will be giving an oral presentation on his research into the effects of epigenetic cytosine modifications on DNA structure.
Best Poster Prize
Sean Linsdall, a D.Phil. student in the Steve Davies group, has been awarded a Best Poster Prize at the 25th ISCB International Conference held in Lucknow, India on the 12-14 January 2019. Sean's poster, which was titled 'Concise Asymmetric Syntheses of (2R,3S)-3-Hydroxyproline and (2S,3S)-3-Hydroxyproline', describes several routes to access these hydroxylated amino acid targets using aziridinium ions as key intermediates.
Glasstone Research Fellowship for Dr Pu Zhao
Dr Pu Zhao of the Tsang Group has been awarded a Glasstone Research Fellowship in Science. Two awards are made each year to encourage early-career scientists to conduct original research at departments of chemistry, computer science, engineering, materials, mathematics, physics, plant sciences, and statistics. Dr Zhao's research interests lie in heterogeneous catalysis with zeolites and metal-organic frameworks. Synchrotron X-ray and neutron techniques are heavily employed.
Dr Zhao is currently a postdoctoral research associate of Prof. Edman Tsang and a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College. Before coming to Oxford, she did her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge with Prof. Simon Redfern.
Poster prize for Lorenzo Petralia and Andriana Tsikritea
Heazlewood group researchers Lorenzo Petralia and Andriana Tsikritea won a Royal Society of Chemistry poster prize at the RSC Spectroscopy and Dynamics Group meeting held on 7-9 January in Nottingham. Andriana and Lorenzo co-presented their winning poster, entitled 'Charge exchange reaction between cold Xe+ ions and ammonia isotopologues.'
IYPT Element Selection for Dr Martine Abboud
2019 marks the UN International Year of the Periodic Table of Elements, celebrating the 100th anniversary of IUPAC and 150 years of the Periodic Table. Dr Martine Abboud, a postdoctoral scientist in the Schofield group and a Junior Research Fellow at Kellogg College, has been selected by IUPAC to represent an element, Cerium, in the Periodic Table of Younger Chemists for her public outreach efforts and for her work at Oxford Chemistry (with Profs Schofield and Claridge).
On the Cover of JBC
The results of a collaboration between the Benesch group and the Vierling Lab (University of Massachusetts) were featured on the cover of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The work reveals how plant small heat-shock proteins act to capture denaturing substrates, and how tuning the strength of the dimer interface can be used to engineer chaperone efficiency
Professor Philipp Kukura named as the 2019 Blavatnik Chemistry Laureate.
bProfessor Philipp Kukura of Oxford's Department of Chemistry has been named as the 2019 Chemistry Laureate. Professor Kukura is revolutionising the way we visualise and study processes in nature. By detecting and measuring the scattering of visible light from single biomolecules, he can determine their mass and thereby analyse their structure and properties. He hopes that this approach will be used widely to discover how biomolecules assemble, interact and thus function, as well as understand what goes wrong in disease, and how it can be addressed at a molecular level.
Prof Kukura said: 'I am incredibly grateful and humbled by this award, not so much for myself, but because it recognises all the incredibly hard work, creativity and perseverance of my students and postdoc, which make our science possible in the first place.'
The 2019 Blavatnik Awards Laureates and Finalists in the UK will be honoured at a gala dinner and ceremony at the prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum in London on 6th March, 2019. The following day the honourees will present their research in a public symposium entitled Cure, Create, Innovate: 9 Young Scientists Transforming Our World to be held at the Science Museum, London on 7th March, 2019.
SMTG Young Scientist Award for Dr Alice Thorneywork
Dr Alice Thorneywork, a former DPhil student in the Dullens group, won the RSC Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics (SMTG) Young Scientist Award for her seminal experimental confirmation of the existence of a stable hexatic phase in suspensions of two-dimensional colloidal hard spheres (PRL 118, 158001 (2017)), thereby resolving a decades-old debate.
She will give her Award Lecture during the Annual Meeting of the SMTG group in Manchester, 9-11 January 2019.