The Industrial Liaison programme at Diamond continues to thrive with another year’s worth of diverse science coming through the doors in 2015/16. With almost 100 companies carrying out proprietary projects across 25 beamlines and laboratories, the breadth and depth of the industrial engagement with Diamond grows increasingly strong.
This achievement clearly demonstrates both the pivotal role that industrial engagement plays at Diamond and the value that companies place on the services that Diamond offers. Growing usage of Diamond by industrial clients has, in turn, led to expansion of the Industrial Liaison team. In late 2015, Sally Irvine and Zoë Cattell joined the team as Industrial Liaison Scientist for Imaging, and Marketing Manager, respectively. Sally will be assisting our clients with X-ray imaging projects and Zoë will be supporting the team through marketing activities, social media and events. In early 2016, we welcomed postdoctoral researcher Sin-Yuen Chang (pictured left) who will be working on soft X-ray spectroscopy applications and Marco Mazzorana (pictured right) who joins the team as an Industrial Liaison Scientist, Macromolecular Crystallography.
June 1st marked the end of an EU FP7 funded project ‘CAtalytic membrane Reactors based on New mAterials for C1-C4 valorization’ (CARENA). The four year EU-funded collaborative project aimed to create technologies for an efficient conversion of light alkanes and CO2 into higher value chemicals. The project partners included six companies, two SMEs, two research institutes, six universities, and a European network. Industrial Liaison team members Elizabeth Shotton, Anna Kroner, and Claire Pizzey were co-investigators on the project and worked closely with other project partners by designing and performing experiments and helping to analyse the data. Anna also led the development of a microreactor sample environment to mimic the conditions experienced by catalytic materials during industrial processes for in situ experiments. The microreactor is now available for both industrial and academic users of Diamond and has proved immensely popular.
The Industrial Liaison Team.
Left to right: Chris Locke (EVP of Marketing and Technology (Infineum), Sven Schroeder (Diamond-Infineum Bragg Chair & University of Leeds), Richard Dashwood (CTO High Value Manufacturing Catapult) & Andrew Harrison (CEO Diamond Light Source).
Switching focus to structural biology, the EU funded project BioStruct-X, coordinated by EMBL-Hamburg, supports access for key methods in structural biology and comprises 11 facilities from across Europe. Together they provide 44 installations for applications including SAXS, MX, and biological X-ray imaging. To promote the exchange of knowledge, needs, and approaches between industrial scientists and BioStruct-X facility partners, a workshop was held at the DESY campus in Hamburg from 15th- 17th June. The Industrial Liaison team were full participants in the meeting; Alex Dias presented the wide range of facilities now available for structural biology at and around Diamond.
In the past two decades, fragment based drug discovery has emerged as a powerful method to discover and develop new drugs. Such strategy relies on the identification of low molecular weight compounds that bind weakly to a target. The structural information gained on fragment-target complexes provides an excellent starting point for the development of potent and selective drugs and, while historically a campaign can typically extend over several weeks/months, using our newly launched fragment screening platform here at Diamond, organisations can now easily screen a thousand compounds in a matter of days. This allows our industrial users to gain information-rich structures in a timely and cost-effective manner at a critical early phase in the drug discovery pathway.
Our first industrial user was Evotec, a leader in the discovery and development of novel small molecule drugs. As part of a collaboration, we screened their entire 3D fragment library against HSP90, a known and well characterised cancer target, and were able to determine several compounds binding to it. With four commercial partners already using our streamlined fragment screening platform and a growing interest from pharma and biotech companies, both in the UK and overseas, the platform has clearly become a valuable tool in the drug discovery process to determine potential lead molecules/compounds/candidates.
In November 2015, the Industrial Liaison Team jointly hosted The Illuminating Challenges in Automotive Research (iCAR) 2015 Conference with Infineum UK Ltd, one of the world leaders in the formulation, manufacture and marketing of petroleum additives for fuels and lubricants. iCAR2015 brought together scientific researchers and leading professionals from the automotive, oil and petrochemical industries to discuss the future of world transport and how cutting edge science can be harnessed to help deliver the huge increase in energy demand required to serve the global population, set to rise to 9 billion people by 2050. iCAR 2015 took place at Diamond and was attended by over 100 delegates including representation from Shell, BP Castrol, Ilika, Johnson Matthey, Ricardo and the Warwick Manufacturing Group.
During the iCAR meeting, David Collins (picture right), postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford was presented with the 2015 Infineum-Diamond prize for Innovative Automotive Research using Synchrotron Light.
As the vast majority of our projects are confidential in nature, we welcome the opportunity to hear current and potential clients discuss the work that they have carried out using Diamond and the benefits that the work has brought to their business. Creating case studies is a useful way to demonstrate the applications of synchrotron techniques to a wide variety of applied research problems and we have recently published examples of in crystallo fragment screening (with Evotec), small angle X-ray scattering characterisation of biopharmaceuticals (with Porton Biopharma) and the use of in situ XANES studies to look at lubricant film formation kinetics (with the University of Leeds). All news, case studies and information on events can be found on the Diamond website, or follow us on Twitter (@diamondILO) or on LinkedIn for the very latest updates.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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