Bright Spark Symposium 2019

The university is hosting this year’s Royal Society of Chemistry Bright Spark Symposium. Run by the RSC Analytical Science Network this free event is designed to provide a low-pressure, friendly platform for early career analytical scientists to present their work to like-minded individuals and provide networking opportunities. The day will include a number of talks from our bright sparks as well as a poster session. All aspects of analytical science welcome! Spaces are free but limited.

Bright Spark symposium flyer

Graduation 2019

Last week we celebrated with this year’s graduates at their ceremony at the Brighton Centre. It is always a wonderful day seeing our students graduate and take all that hard work and determination forward in their lives. We wish you the very best for the future and hope you all keep in touch and come back to visit us. Join our LinkedIn alumni group and subscribe to this blog to keep up-to-date.

This year we also have some staff leaving. Course leader for Pharmaceutical & Chemical Sciences and organic chemistry lead Dr Gerry Gallacher has retired this summer. We are fortunate he will return in an honorary position for research and to help more students with projects at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Course leader and organic chemist Dr Gerry Gallacher receiving his retiriment gifts

Course leader and organic chemist Dr Gerry Gallacher receiving his retirement gifts

Our Head of School Professor David Timson is also retiring soon and was honoured at the ceremony by students and staff in the school and wider community for his service and commitment to the school with a standing ovation.

Before the ceremony we had a celebration event for the school where we award prizes to the graduates and have a little fizz and nibbles inviting their families and friends along to share their achievements. This year’s Chemistry winners were:

RSC Downland Prize for the best chemistry project – Luke Hawkins

Chemistry Division prizes for highest achiever on the course:

  • MChem – Brad Clarke
  • BSc(hons) Chemistry – Pippa Veal
  • BSc(hons) Pharmaceutical & Chemical Sciences – Jake Rigby

Alumni Prize (Chemistry) for Services to the School – Hayder Morsel

Chemistry prizewinners with certificates

Pictured from left to right: Pippa Veal, Luke Hawkins, Brad Clarke, Jake Rigby

Staff news

We’ve had a very busy summer here in chemistry@brighton and are looking forward to the return of students next week. Some exciting staffing news that has happened over the last few months.

portrait of Dr Lizzy OstlerProfessor Lizzy Ostler has been promoted to the university professoriate as Professor of Chemical Biology. This reflects her fantastic research into the ageing process at the intersection of chemistry and biology and major contributions to the university.

 

 

portrait of Dr Alison WillowsDr Alison Willows has been promoted to Principal Lecturer, she has been instrumental in developing the chemistry courses and this position will allow further development for chemistry@brighton

 

 

portrait of Dr Graham PattisonWe are delighted to welcome Dr Graham Pattison as lecturer in Organic Chemistry. I’m sure he’ll receive a warm welcome from all of the students when they return and already has some looking to undertake undergraduate research with him. He’s settling in well to the team and we wish him every success here with us. Stay tuned for more details.

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Novel compounds designed and made by Chemistry@brighton researchers in the news

 

Stilbene synthesisportrait of Dr Lizzy OstlerMany students on the Chemistry and Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences courses at Brighton will already be familiar with the exciting world of small molecule therapies designed to slow ageing –through Dr Ostler’s (in)famous CH210 group consultancy report.  The joys and difficulties of sorting anecdotal life extensionist optimisim from genuine scientific discoveries brought to life in this second year assessment gained a new twist this week.

 

portrait of Professor Richard FaragherExciting new research conducted in a collaboration between Dr Ostler, Professor Faragher (also at the University of Brighton) and Prof Lorna Harries at Exeter University was recently published in BMC Cell Biology.

The discovery showed that novel small molecule analogues of the stilbene resveratrol (found naturally in red wine and chocolate) could “rejuvenate” senescent cells.  The treated cells began to grow again and took on many features of “young” cells.  The team also showed that this was because of changes in RNA splicing factors, the cellular machinery that allows cells to make many different kinds of protein from a single DNA sequence.  The ability to use small molecules to intervene in this previously unexplored mechanism provides new possibilities for the development of anti-degenerative compounds that could allow people to remain heathier well into old age.

Earlier this week the mainstream press became interested in these discoveries, leading to some great headlines including the Sun’s “Wine’s end of the lines, Red wine and chocolate are secret to beating wrinkles, study says” and the Daily Mail’s “Chocolate and red wine ‘are the secret to beating wrinkles’: Scientists find both help rejuvenate old cells as well as the less dramatic “Reversing Aging: Scientists Make Old Human Cells Look And Act Younger in Breakthrough Discovery” from Newsweek and “Breakthrough: Scientists reverse aging in human cells” from Medical News Today.  Our thoughts on the subject will be appearing soon in The Conversation.

All of this was made possible by chemistry and biology researchers working together – something we prize in our undergraduate degrees and that is reflected in our multidisciplinary School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences.  Whatever your conclusions about red wine and chocolate, it is clear that our researchers and students will keep generating much food for thought!

Do you want to live forever?

Professor Richard Faragher, Professor of Biogerontology here at University of Brighton and based in our School, will be debating whether science should be able to help us live forever (or longer at least). The debate will be streamed live tomorrow, Tuesday 7th November at 7pm (UK time) from the Universty of Santiago de Compostela. It promises to be an entertaining and informative discussion covering everything from the science of ageing to the ethics and social implications surrounding it. You can tune in to the debate live at the Regueifas de Ciencia ’17 website here you can also find out more about the debate itself.Advert for debate

Latest article publications from chemistry staff – October

Update of publications from our chemistry staff and research students

New for 2017/18 a monthly round-up of publications from staff and students in the chemistry area here at Brighton. Suscribe to the blog and get regular updates on what we are doing here at brighton

Dr Ostler and Dr Vishal Birar (ex-PhD student) are co-authors on the open access article “Small molecule modulation of splicing factor expression is associated with rescue from cellular senescence” in BMC Cell Biology.

Dr Cragg, Dr Willows, Dr Patel, Dr Kothur (ex-PhD student) and Ms Kamenica (MPhil student) have authored an open access article “Lithium ion sensors” in the journal Sensors

ACS Editor’s Choice for Brighton’s chemistry research

ACS Editor’s Choice for recently published Chemistry Research;

Recent work by Dr Marcus Dymond (Division of Chemistry, PABS) and Prof. George Attard (University of Southampton) with collaborators at the MAX IV synchrotron/ University of Lund, SE has been selected as a prestigious American Chemical Society Editor’s Choice article.

The ACS is the world’s largest scientific society, which publishes 51 research journals across the chemical sciences. Each year the ACS chooses 365 articles (one per day) from across its many journals to make open access as part of the ACS Editor’s Choice program. On the 29th of October 2017 new research by Dr Dymond and colleagues was chosen.

The paper, published in ACS Langmuir, looks at the membrane disrupting properties of aliphatic aldehydes. Aliphatic aldehydes are a class of chemicals that are used by algae as part of a defence mechanism however aliphatic aldehydes have also been implicated in a range of health related problems and disease mechanisms in humans. Notably aliphatic aldehydes are produced in cells as a response to reactive oxygen species (oxidative stress) interacting with lipids and there is an increasing body of evidence linking oxidative stress to global health challenges such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and many other health conditions. Aliphatic aldehydes are also produced when some fats are heated to high temperatures for frying food, raising concerns about their incorporation in the human diet.

The researchers used X-ray diffraction facilities available at the MAX IV synchrotron SE to show that aliphatic aldehydes destabilise the flat structures formed by some of the most prominent lipids found in cell membranes. Typically cells contain large numbers of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine lipids, which form flat lipid bilayer membrane structures that contain protein. The most widely known example is the plasma membrane, which encapsulates the cell and allows it to control chemical conditions inside its interior. However lipid bilayers are like microscopic springs that store elastic energy and it is thought that by controlling the composition of their membranes cells can regulate the elastic stress stored within. This enables cells to regulate the function of some proteins, which respond to elastic stresses in the membrane.

In the particular case of aliphatic aldehydes the researchers found that as the concentration of these molecules increases the lipid mixtures form curved aggregates, which cannot form flat bilayers. These results strongly suggest that aliphatic aldehydes cause high levels of elastic stress in membranes. It is already known that high elastic stress can disrupt the activity of membrane bound proteins and the research suggests that the negative health effects of aliphatic aldehydes might be linked to this property as summarised in Fig 1.

British Science Festival 2017

This week University of Brighton is co-hosting the British Science Festival 2017. Last night if you headed to the East Street Tap pub in Brighton you will have happened across some crazy chemistry turning wine into gold! Dr Peter Cragg  astounded the patrons of the pub by taking an ordinary glass of wine and extracting gold nanoparticles from the acids you find within it. There is still more fun to be had at the British Science Festival check out their website for details.

summer research

A thiolated co-pillar[5]arene was attached to the surface of a gold electrode and shown to give an analyte-selective voltammetric response to linear biogenic amines.

The summer is all about getting into the lab and writing up research for our academics here at Brighton. This summer has seen the publication of two new papers in inorganic chemistry. published in Chemistry Communications, the Royal Society of Chemistry‘s rapid communications journal. This is the sixth paper from Raghu Kothur’s PhD work, supervised by Dr Peter Cragg and Dr Bhavik Patel.

A co-pillar[5]arene sensor for linear biogenic amines, Raghuram Reddy Kothur, Bhavik Anil Patel and Peter J. Cragg, Chem. Commun., 2017, 53, 9078-9080

The hydrophobically driven inclusion complexation of the Chemical Warfare Agent (CWA) pinacolyl methylphosphonofluoridate (soman, or GD) by β-cyclodextrin (β-CD) is studied both experimentally and computationally

Also from Dr Peter Cragg is another new paper published in RSC Advances. Experimental and computational study of the inclusion complexes of β-cyclodextrin with the chemical warfare agent soman (GD) and commonly used simulants, Mark R. Sambrook, Jack C. Vincent, Jayne A. Ede, Ian A. Gass and Peter J. Cragg, RSC Adv., 2017, 7, 38069-38076

Chemistry Journal Club Friday 19th May 1-2pm H400/1

Dear all,

At the Chemistry Journal Club this week, Luke Damerum (MRes Student) will be delivering a presentation “Cyclic Peptides“.

The Chemistry Journal Club will be meeting on Friday 19th May from 1-2pm in H400/1. Everybody welcome to attend

Look forward to seeing you there.

Kind regards,

Dr Steve Meikle