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Front cover

23 September 2014

Research from the Nelson and Warriner groups is featured on the front cover of the October issue of Nature Chemistry.

The paper describes a novel approach to the discovery of biologically-active compounds which is inspired by the emergence of natural products.  The research was performed by George Karageorgis, a PhD student working with Adam Nelson and Stuart Warriner in the School of Chemistry and the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology.

The paper is featured heavily in the issue: in the editorial, a News & Views article, and an interview with Adam Nelson and Stuart Warriner.  It is also featured in a themed web focus issue of Nature Chemistry  that focuses on nature-inspired approaches to bioactive molecule discovery.

The October issue of Nature Chemistry can be found here.

Leading the way in chemistry education

17 September 2014

From changing the fundamental approach to teaching undergraduate organic chemistry in the 1940’s to leading the way in business education for chemists today, the School of Chemistry has been at the forefront of chemistry education for over 70 years.

Following in the footsteps of C.K.Ingold, who introduced the idea of teaching organic chemistry through an understanding of structure and mechanism rather than the rote learning of reactions, the School of Chemistry, in response to the Royal Society of Chemistry’s call for proposals to develop business skills resources for chemists in higher education, has created a second year module called ‘Chemistry: Idea to Market’.

The course is designed to lead students through the various stages of taking a new product from concept to market, with the emphasis on developing new products within a larger company. Business topics are explored in context, using case studies that give students the freedom to develop areas that interest them. Such problem-based case studies are effective learning tools, and the nature of the topic lends itself to this teaching method. Similarly, moving away from a lecture-based approach to facilitated workshops is a more successful way of developing transferable skills and other attributes employers desire.

Find out more about this innovative module and how it is benefiting our student’s employability prospects and understanding of working in industry.

Laboratory Videos for Undergraduate Teaching

8 September 2014

’Teaching staff have produced a set of laboratory technique videos to help undergraduate students develop their practical skills.

These videos show students how to perform practical techniques in the experiments they carry out for their practical modules. Students can view these before entering the laboratory through a new University of Leeds – Chemistry Laboratories YouTube account. Students can also view these videos during the laboratory sessions using state of the art laptops that are currently being installed in the Priestley laboratory.

The videos form part of the newly revamped practical course to equip students with the skills they need to become professional chemists in the 21st century. New videos will be added soon as the course development continues.

The science of brewing beer

5 September 2014

Why does beer have a foamy head? Why does beer taste bitter? Why are beer bottles brown?

From 3-9 September, Dr Paul Beales from the School of Chemistry at the University of Leeds and local artist Andy Wilson will be taking part in ASMbly Lab (Artists. Scientists. Makers.) – a week-long popup event in Leeds, where participants explore scientific, artistic and technological ideas. Their project, ‘Superposition Pale Ale’, will explore the science of brewing and attempt to brew a beer within the week-long timeframe, ready for tasting at the final exhibition on 9 September.
At the final event people will be asked to consider their sensory perceptions of the beer (how it looks, tastes and smells) and learn how different aspects of these are linked to the physics and chemistry of the brewing process.
The project will be documented on an online blog, which includes daily information on different aspects of the science of beer:

Venue: Live Art Bistro, 1-2 Regent Street, LS2 7QA

Mimicking natural evolution to improve the diversity of drugs.

21 August 2014

A revolutionary new scientific method developed at the University of Leeds will improve the diversity of ‘biologically active molecules’, such as antibiotics and anti-cancer agents. The research was inspired by evolution in nature and may uncover new pharmaceutical drugs that traditional methods would never have found.

In nature both the chemical structure of organisms and the methods to produce them have evolved over millennia because they were of benefit and this is the approach researchers wanted to emulate to discovering new drugs. This novel approach takes different combinations of lots of different ingredients and if the result ‘tastes’ promising then this is used as the starting point for another set of experiments. To assess the effectiveness of the reaction products as drugs, researchers studied how well they could activate a particular biologically relevant protein called the ‘androgen receptor’, which is important in the progression of certain cancers. Only at the end, when something really good has been identified, is it worked out exactly what has been made.
The key to this method is using very promiscuous reactions which can lead to many different interesting products. Normally, these are the sort of reactions that chemists would steer well clear of, but in this case it’s actually an advantage and gives us the chance of finding some diverse and active structures,
The research, carried out by George Karageorgis (PhD student), Professor Adam Nelson and Dr Stuart Warriner from the School of Chemistry and the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, is reported online in Nature Chemistry.

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