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Impact and Engagement

Delivering meaningful impact from new medicines that treat ovarian cancer to enzymes that promote deep cleaning

Delivering Impact

Chemistry has a strong history of research which is translated into products, tools or policy that impact society.

Whether we're developing new molecules for the pharmaceutical industries, pioneering of remote access experiments or inspiring the next generation of young scientists, our research shapes lives.


Discovery of PARP inhibitors for cancer treatment

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women in the UK and has a poor overall 5-year survival rate of 46%. Our medicinal chemistry research discovered the first potent inhibitors of the DNA repair enzyme poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP-1). Rucaparib has received approval for clinical use in ovarian cancer in the USA, Europe, and the UK.

Phosphodiesterases (PDEs) – A first-in-class enzyme for household laundry

NucB, a bacterial phosphodiesterase (PDE) from Bacillus licheniformis, was discovered following studies into the fundamental biochemistry of biofilm dispersal by marine microbes. Our researchers demonstrated the potential for NucB-mediated biofilm dispersal in industrial, healthcare and household applications. This enzyme is now a key ingredient in a leading brand of household laundry products produced by Procter & Gamble (Ariel® Liquids, Powders and All-in-1 PODS). 

Discovery of MDM2-p53 inhibitor for cancer treatment

Chemistry research in collaboration with Astex Pharmaceuticals has developed a new anticancer drug that inhibits the MDM2-p53 protein-protein interaction. Currently in Phase I/II clinical trials, it is designed to benefit patients with wild-type p53+ve tumours (~50% of all cases) and to avoid side-effects seen in trials of competitor MDM2i drugs. 

Enhancing the accessibility and analysis of X-ray Techniques

Work in chemistry have been instrumental in pioneering remote access use of beamline I19 at Diamond Light Source.  

Simultaneously Dr Michael Probert led a report to the International Union of Crystallography about the ease of mechanisms to create believable fraudulent diffraction data. He proposed solutions to identify malpractice automatically and the results are routinely implemented into the checkCIF program and used globally to validate all crystallographic refinements.

We also run the CONEXS network seeking to bring together experimentalists and theoreticians in X-ray spectroscopy to enhance data analysis. 

Spin outs from Chemistry Research

We strongly support the realisation of the commercial impact of our research. Spin-outs arising from research in chemistry include:

 These have been responsible >100 FTEs of employment over the last 5 years.

Outreach Activities

Outreach and engagement are vital components for a continued pipeline of STEM students.

We deliver an extensive outreach programme with an extensive network of 30+ regional Schools with a focus upon increasing engagement from low participation neighbourhoods. We also runs an annual Partners summer school, welcoming over 50 16-18 years olds per annuum from low participation areas.

Chemistry is represented at a large number of public events promoting Chemistry and our research.