New themes for the chemistry degrees

chemistry at Brighton logoAt Brighton we’ve always been proud of the way our courses relate to real world applications. We’ve had a Pharmaceutical & Chemical Sciences course and our Chemistry degrees have the opportunity to learn biochemistry and geochemistry alongside the core chemistry and analytical subjects.

New students in 2020 will now have two new themes to add to the biochemistry and geochemistry options that they study, these will be pharmaceutical sciences and environmental pollution. This ties in nicely with the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Making the Difference campaign highlighting the applications of chemistry to many global issues.

Here at Brighton we have cutting edge research in all of the theme areas and like to pass that on to our students during their time here, working on real research problems in both third and fourth year projects with academic staff.

You can find out more about our courses on the University of Brighton website with the detailed specifications of the degrees showing the theme. Come see what you can do with chemistry!

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

Salters’ Institute Festival of Chemistry

Today chemistry@brighton welcomes 21 schools from Sussex, Kent, Surrey and London for the Salters’ Institute Festival of Chemistry. Teams of year 7 and 8 children undertake two practical challenges one set by Salters and one by the university with the opportunity to compete for prizes along the way. chemistry@brighton staff are involved in judging, technical assistance, chemistry quiz and the teacher programme for the day. This is an annual event which we host each year enabling students to gain practical experience in our laboratories whilst having fun competing against other schools in the South East.

PASS needs you!

advert for pass leader recruitment. Register your interest by end of MayWe’re recruiting for next year’s PASS leaders. It’s a great confidence booster and good way to meet the new first years, looks great on your CV and makes sure you remember all of that stuff you did in the first year. Email Dr Willows by end of May to register your interest.

STEP UP

This month has seen the launch of a new widening participation initiative by chemistry@brighton. STEP UP has been designed to inspire students at 16-18 level and work with their teachers to provide opportunities for those students who show promise but are perhaps not so good at the traditional exam. Working with local schools in Brighton & Hove, East Sussex and West Sussex our aim is to show that chemistry@brighton is a real possibility for them. We have activities lined up to supplement their current studies including a lab experience day, taster lectures, study skills and work experience. Teachers are able to highlight to us students who have potential to succeed but for whatever reason might not see that result at A level. Working with the teachers we can then offer preferential admission to select students.

STEP UP Logo - School Transition & Experience Programme - Unlocking Potential

School Transition & Experience Programme – Unlocking Potential

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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A level Chemistry Conference

Today chemistry@brighton welcomes students in the middle of their A level studies from across Sussex for a day of practical work and advice about next steps. We’re really looking forward to welcoming them into our labs and showing them what the big instruments do. They’ll get hands-on experience of instruments they have been learning about and get a flavour of what it is like being a chemistry@brighton student. The day consists of a scenario where they are testing samples from the (unfortunately fictional) Huxley vineyred wineard to find out why there is a problem with the taste. Is it contamination? Did someone use the wrong preservative? Hopefully the students will use their scientific skills to figure out what is wrong so the vineyard can get back on track.

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!

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.