Industrial engagement plays a pivotal role at Diamond Light Source and there is ever increasing value placed by companies on the services that Diamond has to offer. In June 2016, we reached a milestone of our 100th client and now have well in excess of 100 companies carrying out proprietary projects across 25 beamlines, integrated facilities and laboratories; the breadth and depth of the industrial engagement with Diamond grows increasingly strong.
This growth in the usage of Diamond by industrial clients has, in turn, led to expansion of the Industrial Liaison team and joining the team this year is Renjie Zhang. Renjie manages the fragments soaking platform and provision of scientific guidance for facility users. In addition, he coordinates the fragments soaking user program, including the scheduling of academic and industrial users. Also joining the team as a PhD student is Laila Al-Madhagi, who will be with us for the next two years. Her project is dedicated to automation of the analysis of near edge X-ray absorption fin structure (NEXAFS) data and it is based on the Industrial Liaison Office (ILO) collaboration with Sven Schroeder, who has a Bragg Centenary Chair with Diamond, University of Leeds and Infineum.
In April 2016, new structural information obtained from work carried out on one of the macromolecular crystallography beamlines (I04) at Diamond enabled scientists from Heptares Therapeutics (the UK-based subsidiary of Sosei Group Corporation) to solve the high resolution X-ray crystal structure of the glucagon receptor. This biological receptor plays a crucial role in the management of blood glucose levels and is considered to be an important target for drugs designed to treat metabolic diseases, such as diabetes. The breakthrough research by Heptares on this receptor adds to the wealth of information the company has generated using its StaR® platform on G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), the most important family of receptors targeted by drug developers. Class B GPCRs include many therapeutic targets for cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases, bone diseases and migraine, but despite strong clinical validation, until now structural information has been limited.
Figure 1: A glucagon receptor solved by researchers from Heptares in conjunction with the beamlines staff on Diamond's I04 beamline.
Our 100th client, 3Dmagination, located in close proximity to Diamond, provides advanced services and custom-built training in 3D and 4D imaging. They started working with the ILO in order to apply the unique properties of third generation synchrotron radiation (high flux, brightness, and high coherence) to exploit both absorption and phase contrast information, or when imaging dynamic processes very quickly. 3Dmagination is the brainchild of two French scientists, Kamel Madi and Loic Courtois, who have a passion for 3D X-ray imaging techniques and a multidisciplinary academic and industrial background in materials, mechanics and manufacturing.
Collaboration is at the heart of what we do here in the ILO and this was never more evident than in a recent publication from our PDRA Sin-Yuen Chang. Building on fundamental research developed under an EPSRC-NSF grant, a collaboration between researchers from Diamond, the University of Manchester and Synchrotron SOLEIL aimed to probe the nucleation of metal nanoparticles. Time resolved spectroscopy on Diamond’s Core XAS beamline (B18) allowed the team to probe the nucleation of Palladium (Pd) metal from a solution of a Pd salt. Crucially, the time-resolved spectroscopic facilities enabled them to follow the structural, chemical and compositional changes in situ at an unprecedented level that no routine home laboratory techniques can provide.
It is believed that this study represents the first step towards a better understanding of metallic nucleation, and the observed behaviour may generally be applicable to other reactive nucleation processes as well. Building on the study, this collaboration has been awarded more beamtime on Diamond’s B18 and LOLA: Versatile X-ray Spectroscopy beamline (I20) as well as on ROCK at Synchrotron Soleil where the researchers are looking to use external electrochemical control (instead of mere chemical control) to drive the nucleation process, thereby enabling in situ variations and more precise control of the process.
Figure 2: An examples of 3Dmagination’s imaging work: a Zirconia-Rich fused cast refractory (in collaboration with MINES ParisTech).
As ever, the Industrial Liaison team participated in a number of conferences and events throughout the year. Most notably on the 14th and 15th of September, members of the team exhibited at the Low Carbon Vehicle (LCV) Event that took place at Millbrook in Bedfordshire. The Cenex-LCV event is the UK’s premier LCV event and it was here that the ILO showcased automotive research that has taken place at Diamond; in particular highlighting recent studies into material stresses and strains, catalysts, lithium-sulfur batteries, and biofuels.
On the 29th June 2016, Elizabeth Shotton, Head of Industrial Liaison at Diamond and Sally Housden, Project Delivery Manager at Quantum Detectors, were invited to speak as part of the ‘From Research to Innovation’ session at this year’s Venturefest Oxford. This opportunity allowed them to address key questions such as how does academic research link to innovation? And what funding schemes are available for partnerships between companies and research organisations?
Zoë Cattell, Industrial Liaison Marketing Manager was an invited speaker at the UK Bioscience Forum that took place at the Royal College of Surgeons in London on the 20th October 2016. Alongside two of our industrial clients; Rob Cooke from Heptares and Dave Gervais from Porton Biopharma, Zoë spoke as part of the session on ‘Lighting up Pharmaceutical Discovery’. The session highlighted Diamond’s capabilities in life sciences, and offered real examples of how two key industry players have used Diamond to investigate GPCRs to develop treatments for central nervous system and metabolic diseases, and to provide evidence to regulatory authorities in support of a drug substance.
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. We are delighted to share these stories on our webpages and recent highlights include work from Unilever into the microstructure of ice cream, BASF and a world first in chemical tomography of catalysts, and finally work carried out into the vital area of antibiotic resistance by UCL and Birkbeck, University of London.
All news, case studies and information on our events can be found on our webpage at http://www.diamond.ac.uk/industry or follow us on Twitter (@diamondILO) or on LinkedIn for the very latest updates.
Figure 3: Diamond in Energy Engineering - low carbon vehicle special edition /Cenex LCV 2016.
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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