Bristol launches Centre for developing future innovators
1 May 2009
The development of greener and more efficient processes for making new drugs and materials is a step closer, thanks to the launch of a new centre that aims to create the next generation of leading scientific innovators.
The Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) for Chemical Synthesis, in the University’s School of Chemistry, will provide a high-impact programme of academic and industrial collaboration across the chemical sciences to produce a new generation of world-class synthetic chemists equipped to solve the diverse molecular problems of the future.
The Centre is one of four Doctoral Training Centres for which Bristol was awarded funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) – the UK funding body for science and engineering. Collectively their aim is to tackle some of Britain’s biggest challenges in the 21st century such as climate change, energy and healthcare solutions for our ageing population.
Students in these centres will receive a formal programme of taught coursework to develop and enhance their technical interdisciplinary knowledge, and broaden their skills. Alongside this they will undertake a challenging and original research project at doctoral level.
Professor Eric Thomas, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “Doctorates are the future and it is hugely important that we create the very best training and environment for our doctoral students who will go on to become the leaders of scientific endeavour 10 to 25 years from now. We are very grateful for the industrial funding for the Centre. This is a great achievement for a very successful department in a very successful faculty.”
The initiative is widely supported by business and industry. In addition to the £8.1 million awarded by the EPSRC to fund ten PhD students per year, the Centre has also attracted over £800,000 in funding from leading UK pharmaceutical, agrochemical and fine chemical organisations such as AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Novartis, Syngenta, Vertex, Schering-Plough and OSI Prosidion.
This additional industry resource will fund an extra five PhD students starting in October 2009. In addition the industrial partners will contribute to the ambitious educational and training programme thus ensuring that graduates of the centre will be best placed to meet the demands of a rapidly changing social and business environment.
Professor Kevin Booker-Milburn, Centre Director, said: “Chemical synthesis is an area of huge significance as it contributes to so many materials and products found in all aspects of everyday life. Our Centre, which has attracted considerable additional funding from leading UK pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries, will train a new generation of world-class PhD students, with enhanced team-working and problem-solving skills, who will create better, greener and more efficient processes and ensure the UK maintains its competitive position as the place for highly innovative and creative research.”
Dr David Hollinshead, AstraZeneca's Director of Science Policy, said: “We hope that the Centre will fill a global research need and provide the necessary training for people to deliver that research. Our industry objective is very simple and it is to ensure that organic synthesis remains strong in the UK. The Bristol Chemical Synthesis DTC will make an essential contribution to this objective.”
Dr Steve Smith, Research Chemistry Operations Manager at Syngenta, said: “We have a history of successful collaboration with Bristol's School of Chemistry. The Chemical Synthesis DTC offers an exciting opportunity for Syngenta to take this partnership to a new level and for us to work closely with students, staff and other companies to help build what promises to be an inspirational Centre for synthetic chemistry training and research.”
David Fox, Senior Director, Discovery Chemistry, Pfizer said: "I am really excited about the Centre. It promises to deliver high-calibre synthetic chemists who are able to tackle complex problems through collaborative research. These skills are vital in a rapidly-changing and increasingly challenging industrial setting."
The Centre, based in the University’s School of Chemistry, was launched by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas, and Centre Director, Professor Kevin Booker-Milburn, on Monday [27 April]. Further information about the Centre is available on the website.