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Issue 2, June 2016

Oxford Chemistry Industry Newsletter

June 2016

A Successful Industrial Collaboration
The SCG-Oxford Centre of Excellence in Chemistry
The SCG-Oxford Centre of Excellence for Chemistry (CoE) is a unique collaboration between the University of Oxford and SCG - one of the largest integrated conglomerates in Thailand and a key industry leader in the Asia-Pacific region.

Established in 2012 and led by Professor Dermot O’Hare, the CoE’s main focus is on research and development in the area of nano materials and catalysis. There is currently a team of 6 PIs and >20 researchers working on SCG-funded projects in Oxford Chemistry. Since the initial collaboration, 30 projects have been established that include new, more effective generations of metallocene and pentalene catalysts for specialty grades (higher value added) of polyolefins as well as a new class of dispersible, ultra-high surface area layered double hydroxides as a nano-additive in the plastics industry. They are also collaborating on developing new bespoke materials as catalysts including for CO2 conversion, alkane activation, functional coatings and sorbents. There are also 11 projects under the SCG Innovation Fund (SIF) where sponsorship is offered on an initial short-term basis to see whether ideas are viable for longer-term research and sponsorship.
Prof O’Hare comments on the importance of establishing such collaborations: “Research and development is what brings us more advanced technology. What motivates me to come into work everyday is the hope to create something that can be worthwhile for humanity. Collaboration raises levels of capability on both sides and allows for innovative development in an international arena at a more efficient and faster pace. Such innovations in nanomaterial research will deliver new unique properties and features in polymers.”

Impact: To date, the CoE has 40 publications and 30 patents. In 2014/15, 12% of all new intellectual property from the University of Oxford originated from the CoE. Prof O’Hare and SCG were also honoured by an audience with HRH Princess Sirindhorn on the occasion of celebrating Thailand-UK Science and Innovation Partnerships.
Prof Dermot O'Hare
Professor Dermot O'Hare is a Professor in Inorganic Chemistry and SCG Fellow and Tutor in Inorganic Chemistry at Balliol College, Oxford. He has recently been awarded the Tilden Prize by the Royal Society of Chemistry, 2016. He was also awarded one of Oxford’s MPLS impact awards in recognition of the creation of the SCG-Oxford Centre and its unique collaboration and success.
Read more about O'Hare Group
Introducing our Graduate Programmes
EPSRC CDT in Synthesis for Biology & Medicine (SBM CDT)
The EPSRC CDT in Synthesis for Biology & Medicine (SBM CDT) is a four-year DPhil programme that offers joint academic-industrial training in cutting-edge synthesis and its impact on significant problems in biology and medicine.
Designed to build on Oxford Chemistry’s strength in synthetic chemistry, this EPSRC-led initiative aims to train and develop graduates capable of addressing major challenges in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries.

Now in its second year, the SBM CDT has developed a unique open-access and open-minded approach to graduate training and research, where no research outputs from the programme will be patented. Professor Martin Smith, Director of the SBM CDT, explains: “Our innovative academic-industry collaboration model has facilitated the development of a vital collaborative network, encouraging exchange of information, know-how and expertise between students and supervisors on different projects and across our 12 industrial partners”. These include AstraZeneca, Evotec, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Novartis, Pfizer, Syngenta, Takeda, UCB, Vertex, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and Diamond Light Source.
SBM 2014 cohort
SBM CDT 2014 Cohort
Both students and industrial partners have highlighted the benefits of this unique approach. Yaoyao Xiong (2014 cohort) particularly enjoyed the bespoke courses delivered by the CDT’s industrial partners and visits to production and research sites: “Lectures, seminars and workshops delivered by the industrial partners brought a complementary view of how chemistry is carried out in industry, which is particularly fascinating as entering industry is my first option after graduation.”
Dr William Whittingham, External Collaborations Portfolio Lead, Chemical Research, at Syngenta, commented on the benefits of this pre-competitive model: “The open access model of the CDT, in which all partners see the results from all the projects, provides great opportunities for pre-competitive collaboration, not just between individual companies and academics, but also between the companies themselves. We are already starting to see some great progress in the projects and look forward to much more in the coming months.”
This unique approach promises to be key for generating high-impact discoveries and publications, thereby accelerating the advancement of science.
Learn more about our CDTs
Spinning Out Success
Oxford Mass Technologies (OMass)
Oxford Mass Technologies (OMass) is one of the latest spin-out companies to emerge from the Department of Chemistry and is a result of research conducted within Professor Dame Carol Robinson’s group. 

OMass is an enabling technology platform providing biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies with mass spectrometry solutions for studying challenging targets. Carol’s latest advances in applying mass spectrometry to membrane proteins, which constitute over 50% of all drug targets, has captured the interest of the pharmaceutical industry and prompted the formation of OMass.

Carol explains her motivation for founding OMass: “Membrane proteins are extremely challenging targets to study and characterise. We have focussed on developing enabling mass spectrometry methods to  evaluate them. Early collaborations between my research group and pharmaceutical companies have demonstrated just how powerful this technology can be and has prompted the formation of OMass.”
OMass team
OMass team
The team are committed to providing technology and know-how in assisting biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies tackle challenging drug targets and biologics. The CEO of OMass, Dr Jonathan Hopper, comments: "We have a fantastic senior scientific team and I’m excited to exploit this technology in drug development pipelines. We have been extremely fortunate to secure funding and partnership with Oxford Science Innovation - they have been tremendously supportive in establishing OMass”. The new company has now received funding to establish a laboratory this summer, to be based at the Begbroke Science Park.
Prof Dame Carol Robinson
Prof Dame Carol Robinson is a Royal Society Research Professor, Doctor Lee’s Professor Elect at the University of Oxford and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Carol is the first female Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and was previously the first female Professor of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge.  She is renowned for pioneering the use of mass spectrometry as an analytical tool and for her ground-breaking research into the 3D structure of proteins.
Read more about Robinson Group
Collaboration Opportunities

We are open to a variety of collaborative relationships to allow industrial partners to gain access to the Department’s world-leading expertise and facilities. If you are interested in partnering with Oxford Chemistry, have a look at our industry-facing website. Alternatively, please contact Dr Rachel MacCoss to discuss how to collaborate with us.
Find out more about Collaboration Opportunities
Facilities and Services to Industry
UCB & Centre for Advanced Electron Spin Resonance (CAESR)
Accuracy in protein structures is essential for rational design of drug candidates, and for many years X-ray crystallography has provided templates to guide medicinal chemists in the successful design of small molecules. However, protein conformations are necessarily constrained by the restricted conditions under which crystals are formed and by the inter-molecular contacts of the crystal lattice; new approaches are needed to address these limitations.
In the pioneering collaboration between UCB and Oxford Chemistry’s Centre for Advanced Electron Spin Resonance (CAESR), new methods in Structural Biology are being developed using a pulsed ESR method of Double Electron-Electron Resonance (DEER), in which intramolecular distances are determined from frozen protein solutions. Information from DEER is being applied to adjust crystal structures using molecular dynamics to generate new, and potentially more representative, working models of protein structures to aid drug discovery.
Micromeritics 3flex
    Double Electron-Electron Resonance

The large magnetic moment of unpaired electrons in stable nitroxide radical spin labels allows for dipolar distance measurements with pulsed ESR over the range of 16 to 120 Å. Complex biomolecule structures of conformational intermediate states can be determined to a time resolution of better than 50 microsec. with a distance resolution of up to one Å.
The Director of CAESR, Prof Christiane Timmel, explains how the interaction with industry first developed: “Dr. Alastair Lawson of UCB contacted us after a review of our publications on the development and applications of DEER. We met with him to identify our capabilities and formulate a research plan. Ongoing work in CAESR has driven new understanding of target protein dynamics and is currently being applied to candidate drug design“.

Industrial collaborations form an important part of the ESR facility activities, and the research with UCB adds advanced ESR methods to its industrial portfolio.
The Centre for Advanced Electron Spin Resonance (CAESR) was installed in April 2007 and houses state-of-the-art CW and pulsed EPR instruments operating at X-band (10 GHz), Q-band (34 GHz), and W-band (94 GHz) for use by biochemists, chemists, materials scientists and physicists.
Learn more about our Services and Facilities
Research and Education Highlights
A Selection of Joint Publications with Industry
Prof Edman Tsang and Siemens
Probing atomic positions of adsorbed ammonia molecules in zeolite
Chemical Communications 2016, 52 (16), 3422-3425 

Prof Steve Davies and Syngenta
Pinacolatoboron fluoride (pinBF) is an efficient fluoride transfer agent for synthesis of benzylic fluorides
Tetrahedron Lett. 2015, 56, 3373

Prof David Hodgson, Prof Rob Paton, Prof Tim Claridge and Novartis
α- and α-Lithiation–Electrophile Trapping of N-Thiopivaloyl and N-tert-Butoxythiocarbonyl α-Substituted Azetidines: Rationalization of the Regiodivergence Using NMR and Computation
J. Org. Chem. 2015, 80 (20), 9838–9846

Dr Roel Dullens, Prof Dirk Aarts and InProcess LS
Microscopic dynamics of synchronization in driven colloids
Nature Communications 2015, 6, Article No. 7187.
Additional joint publications with Industry
Sponsored Activities
Lilly Prizes for Excellence in Organic Chemistry Research 2015
Awarded by Dr Magnus Walter from Eli Lilly and Company Ltd in January 2016 for excellence in the first year of postgraduate study, these prizes are based on the quality of experimental work, written submission and viva voce at the point of examination for PRS transfer of status to DPhil.
Pfizer Second Year Graduate Poster Symposium 2015
The poster session followed the Pfizer Symposium, with talks by Dr Andrew Lawrence (University of Edinburgh), Dr David Blakemore (Worldwide Medicinal Chemistry, Pfizer, Cambridge), Prof Beining Chen (University of Sheffield) and Prof Jonathan Clayden (University of Bristol).
AstraZeneca Third Year Graduate Seminar Prizes 2015
This annual two day event features talks from third year graduate students in organic chemistry. Four graduate students won prizes in 2015, which were presented by Dr Jeremy Parker and Dr Hitesh Sanganee from AstraZeneca.
Syngenta Postdoc Symposium 2016
The 3rd Syngenta / Oxford Organic Chemistry Postdoc Symposium took place in February 2016. The event featured six talks from CRL postdocs covering a broad range of research in organic chemistry / chemical biology, and a talk by Dr Steve Shanahan from Syngenta.
Organic Chemistry Colloquia 2015/16
The Organic Chemistry Colloquium Programme is kindly sponsored by Eli Lilly.
The Shell-Hinshelwood Lectures 2016
Sponsored by Shell International, this year's Hinshelwood Lectures were delivered by Prof Ken A Dill, Director of the Laufer Center for Physical & Quantitative Biology, with the theme Statistical Physical Chemistry in Biology: Where Boltzmann meets Darwin. 
Outreach Student Ambassador Celebration
The Department celebrated and recognised the contribution of our excellent student ambassadors involved in outreach activities throughout the year, from undergraduate to graduate students. Tsutomu Nakai, Managing Director of Shimadzu, who kindly sponsored the event, presented Robert Rossiter the prize for Undergraduate Student Ambassador of the Year.
Find out more about Sponsorship Opportunities
In the next issue:
  • UCB-Late Stage Functionalisation project
  • Spinning out success: Oxford Impedance Diagnostics
  • Learn more about industry-sponsored graduate projects
  • Introducing Comp Chem Kitchen, a new forum on computational methods 
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