Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - SYN4CHEMBIODRUG (Synthesis training for a chemical biology approach to drug design)

The establishment of a Marie Curie early stage training (EST) centre for synthesis training for a chemical biology approach to drug design at the University of Edinburgh was a response to the increasingly pivotal role played by chemical biology in the design of new medicines. It aimed to equip future key researchers in the European pharmaceutical industry with the requisite skill set that is essential for breakthroughs in drug discovery, centring on a thorough understanding of chemistry and biology from an early stage.

Following the recent partnership with St Andrews University to form EaStCHEM, the combined Research School of Chemistry is one of the largest and most successful in the United Kingdom, ranked fourth in the United Kingdom by grade point average (GPA) metric and first by the 'Research power' metric in the 2008 research assessment exercise (RAE). The SYN4CHEMBIOLDRUG Marie Curie EST centre was therefore ideally placed to exploit the synergy between the synthesis (Bradley, Greaney, Hulme, Lam, Leigh) and chemical biology (Barran, Campopiano, Uhrin) disciplines and host a coherent, cross-disciplinary training programme in the technical skills required for chemical biology-driven drug discovery.

The training programme was based upon four elements:

1. a research project to allow fellows to achieve hands-on practical skills in chemical synthesis and acquire a second area of expertise appropriate to the new drug discovery paradigm
2. theoretical training in chemical synthesis and chemical biology to allow the EST fellows to develop a rounded knowledge of this interdisciplinary field
3. practical training in a range of fundamental chemical biology and biochemical techniques at a basic level, to equip the fellows for working in an interdisciplinary environment
4. generic skills training essential for a professional scientist including safety training, report and paper writing, presentation skills, data analysis and verbal communication.

Eleven fellows were recruited to the EST centre, of these five were female, representing 45 % of the total. They were appointed to either 12 or 36 month fellowships to give the total of 252 researcher months training planned. The EST fellows contributed to 18 papers in total, which were published in peer reviewed journals, while an additional paper was already submitted and nine more papers were in preparation by the time of the project completion. Moreover, it was anticipated that a number of patents would arise from the work of the EST fellows. Their work was disseminated by the fellows themselves through attendance at 16 international and 15 national conferences, 7 workshops and 2 further scientific meetings over the 48 month period of the EST grant. The fellows gave a total of 9 oral presentations and 21 poster presentations at these conferences. Furthermore, the supervisors of each of the research projects spoke at many different locations on work arising from this project, including invited lectures at universities, in industrial settings and at a number of major international conferences.

By the time of the project completion five of the EST fellows had already submitted their PhD theses and had passed the associated PhD viva. A further five of the fellows were in the final stages of writing their PhD theses and were anticipated to submit them within a trimester. The final fellow, who was on a 12 month appointment to the EST centre beginning in January 2008, was making good progress in this the final year of her PhD studies.

The EST graduates recruited within the first reporting period had already found employment. The 36 month Fellows Ohnmacht and Rupnicki and the 12 month fellow Caniard were postdoctoral fellows in Cambridge, Amsterdam and Saint-Etienne, whilst the 12 month fellows Dorgan and Esswein were employed in product development for Procter and Gamble and Abbott. We anticipated that the remaining six Fellows, appointed during the second reporting period, would be similarly employed following submission of their PhD theses.

Reported by

University of Edinburgh
Old College South Bridge
EH1 1HN Edinburgh
United Kingdom
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