This industry-funded four year PhD scholarship will deliver novel, greener chemical synthesis modalities
Athlone Institute of Technology and Arran Chemical Company, a member of the Almac Group, are collaborating on a unique PhD project investigating the use of biocatalysis in the asymmetric synthesis of chiral amines and diamines. Leading the project is Lauryn Bracken, a graduate of Athlone Institute of Technology’s Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Pharmaceutical Sciences and a recent recipient of the institute’s President’s Doctoral Scholarship.
Lauren, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, will be jointly supervised by Dr Noreen Morris and Dr Sean Reidy, both lecturers in chemistry at Athlone Institute of Technology, in collaboration with Professor Tom Moody, Vice President of Technology Development and Commercialisation, Almac Sciences and Arran Chemical Company, and Dr Peter Cairns, Technical Manager, Arran Chemical Company.
Commencing in October 2019, the project will focus on greener and more economic alternatives to chemical production methods for the synthesis of chiral amines and diamines. Approximately 80% of Active Pharmaceutical Intermediates (APIs) contain groups derived from amines. It is therefore essential that new methodologies are explored to expedite their synthesis.
The basic concept of the project is to displace multi-step chemical routes currently used for the synthesis of chiral amines and diamines to simpler, lower cost and less polluting enzymatic processes. Biocatalysis offers an attractive approach for synthesis resulting in greener processes and real benefits for both the environment and overall cost of goods. General benefits of enzyme chemistry include use of water as a safe solvent, lower temperatures and selectivity that is unachievable by chemical methods.
Welcoming the funding, Dr Noreen Morris said: “This 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 chemical company with a wealth of experience which works with clients globally, will raise the profile of Athlone Institute of Technology as a base of research and development excellence and lead to further opportunities for collaborative research in the future.”
Athlone Institute of Technology and Arran Chemical Company have a long established symbiotic relationship, collaborating on several big projects investigating the synthesis and separation of amines. This new project, with the backing of Professor Moody, further solidifies this relationship.
Commenting on the announcement, Professor Moody said: “We are delighted to support Athlone Institute of Technology in this endeavour and look forward to working together over the next four years. Our intention is to supply the institute with all the necessary biocatalysts needed for this investigation and, of course, guidance and expertise from our specialists in this field. We wish Lauryn every success in her PhD project.”
An educational powerhouse defined by a commitment to academic excellence, rigour and applied education, Athlone Institute of Technology has enjoyed considerable successes in the academic arena this year, most notably being named ‘best in class’ for research across the technological higher education sector. Further solidifying its reputational prowess, the institute was recently awarded ‘Best Academic Partnership’ at the prestigious national Education Awards for its part in developing SURE, Ireland’s first academic network dedicated to promoting undergraduate STEM research across the technological higher education sector. These accolades build upon the institute’s success in winning the Sunday Times Good University Guide ‘Institute of Technology of the Year’ award in 2018.