GlaxoSmithKline collaborates with University of Nottingham chemists20 October 2010
Chemistry students at The University of Nottingham will be put to work discovering the drugs of the future thanks to a unique tie-up with GlaxoSmithKline.
Undergraduates will be able to get first-hand experience of drug discovery as part of a medicinal chemistry module which has just been launched.
Run as a collaboration between GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the University's School of Chemistry, the new module is intended to introduce chemistry students to the medicinal chemistry skills the pharmaceutical industry requires, while also enhancing knowledge transfer between industry and academia.
The students will work on new chemical-based drugs for use in the fight against respiratory diseases like asthma.
The GSK Medicinal Chemistry module is the first collaboration of its kind between a pharmaceutical company and a university, and builds on strong historical links between the School of Chemistry and GSK over many years, with GSK a keen recruiter of Nottingham chemistry graduates. The new module began on October 19 and has been designed as an option for chemistry students in the third year of their four-year MSci course, allowing them to pursue real laboratory research on potential drugs that are being investigated by GSK.
Chris Moody, Sir Jesse Boot Professor and Head of Organic Chemistry at The University of Nottingham, said: 'This collaboration represents a unique opportunity for our students and for the University's School of Chemistry to share expertise, effectively develop the UK's chemistry talent and develop new cross drug-discovery networks.
'We are delighted to develop this partnership with GSK, an organisation which has a reputation for excellence in chemistry.'
This year's Guardian UK 300 List, which asked 17,000 graduates where they would most like to work, found that GSK was the number one choice of those seeking a career in research and development.
The University's School of Chemistry — noted for its excellence in teaching and novel approaches to knowledge transfer, and ranked second in the UK's most recent research assessment exercise (RAE 2008) — has selected 12 students for the module this year. The students will focus on research, synthesis and testing of kinase inhibitors, an area that GSK is currently investigating for its potential in the treatment of asthma.
In addition, the students will receive tuition from a GSK medicinal chemistry mentor as well as synthetic chemistry experts from The University of Nottingham. Over two terms, the course will involve lectures and nine workshops. Participants will also spend 4.5 weeks in the laboratory putting their ideas into practice.
This collaboration is expected to be extended in future through further technology transfer so that all synthetic chemistry research and assay screening related to the module, can take place at The University of Nottingham. This will ensure expertise and new developments can be easily shared between the University and GSK.
Dave Allen, head of chemistry at GSK, said the collaboration represented a first step in what is envisioned as a longer term alliance.
He added: 'Chemistry is critical in our search for new medicines — the chemists design and synthesise the novel chemical structures that deliver the characteristics we need to make them into new medicines. This collaboration will ensure our continued access to high calibre chemists at all entry levels, while extending our ongoing knowledge transfer between academia and industry.'