This is the second major PhD project to come from the unique academia - industry collaboration.

Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) has teamed up with an Athlone-based fine chemical company to investigate greener and more economical alternatives to chemical production methods.

Arran Chemical Company, which is a member of the Almac Group and has a premises in Monksland Industrial Estate, is supporting the four-year, industrial PhD project. 

The research will be undertaken by Hong Ann Gan, a recipient of AIT’s President’s Doctoral Scholarship (2020). Originally from Malaysia, Hong recently completed a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology at UCD, achieving a first-class honours degree.

Hong will be jointly supervised by Dr Sean Reidy and Dr Noreen Morris, both chemistry lecturers at AIT, in collaboration with Professor Tom Moody and Dr Peter Cairns of Arran Chemical Company and Almac.

Commencing in October 2020, the project will attempt to uncover “greener alternatives to chemical production methods for the synthesis of oxidative products” – an under resourced and under studied area. The project is expected to produce technology of interest to both the pharmaceutical and fine chemical industry.

“We are delighted to be supporting AIT once again and look forward to working together over the next four years,” Professor Tom Moody commented. “Almac will supply the college with all the necessary biocatalysts needed for this investigation and, of course, guidance and expertise from our specialists in this field.”

According to Dr Sean Reidy, the project has the exciting prospect of exposing both the student and supervisors to new and exciting areas of research. “A collaboration with Arran Chemical Company, an established global chemical company with a wealth of experience which works with clients globally, will raise the profile of AIT as a base of R&D excellence and lead to further opportunities for collaborative research in the future,” he explained.

AIT and Arran Chemical Company have carried out a wide variety of projects on the synthesis and separation of chiral amines, with this being the second PhD research project to come from the unique academia - industry collaboration.

The first project, initiated last summer and focussed on the use of biocatalysis in the asymmetric synthesis of chiral amines and diamines, is being undertaken by Tullamore-native Lauryn Bracken as part of her PhD studies. Lauryn is a recipient of AIT’s President’s Doctoral Scholarship (2019).

Athlone Institute of Technology is a research-led third level institute with an applied, industry-focussed offering, world-class research and development capabilities, and state-of-the-art facilities. Winner of The Sunday Times Institute of the Year 2020 and 2018, AIT is Ireland’s top-ranked institute and is on track to become the country’s next technological university. AIT tops Ireland’s official league table for research and was listed in U-Multirank’s Top 25 Performing Universities in the World for Interdisciplinary Research in 2018 and 2019. For information relating to the institute’s undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, visit

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