The new research and development facility will help to train the next generation of scientists at Nottingham, in joint discovery work between GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the University's School of Chemistry.
Students will engage in research projects as part of their undergraduate programmes, with a particular focus on the development of innovative green chemistry methodology, which encourages the use of cleaner and safer chemical processes to produce better, purer products.
The laboratory facility will both support academic teaching and encourage related research and development in key areas of chemistry that address issues such as sustainability, energy and healthcare. The proposal will go through proof-of-concept in 2011, for construction at the University’s Jubilee Campus.
The building will also aim to be climate-neutral, serving as a prototype for similar projects elsewhere in the world.
Conventional research and development laboratory facilities have a high demand for energy, producing an average of 2,800 tonnes of CO2 per year. However the new facility, with capacity for around 60 researchers, will aim to be climate-neutral over its lifespan through the following aspects of its design and use:
• It will generate energy, which over time will pay back the embodied carbon in its structure and fabric. This means the building needs to be constructed using materials and techniques that minimise CO2 emissions throughout the building’s lifecycle;
• It will support and facilitate new ways of working. In the pharmaceutical industry, science is typically carried out by multi-disciplinary teams using automated laboratory research; techniques that require less time ‘at the bench’, where data and instrumentation are managed at the desktop;
• It will be quick to build, with a much shorter construction period when compared to a traditional new build;
• It will be flexible so it can be adapted to meet changing needs;
• It will enable students to learn in an environment which duplicates the way science is carried out in the pharmaceutical industry.
Andrew Witty, Chief Executive Officer of GSK, said: “GSK is delighted to be entering into this new partnership with Nottingham. Nottingham is one of the best universities in the UK for medicinal chemistry and by working together we hope to develop this further, especially in the area of ‘green chemistry’. Setting ourselves the goal of developing a Climate-Neutral Lab is an important part of this agenda.”
Professor David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham, said: “I am delighted and excited at the prospect of our partnership with GSK delivering genuinely transformational outcomes. It will shape the future of drug discovery, through its impact on the way scientists train and work, the translation of new discoveries to application and by transforming the environment within which such fundamentally important work takes place.”
Today’s announcement comes less than two months after the launch of an innovative training partnership run as a collaboration between GSK and the University’s School of Chemistry.
The GSK Medicinal Chemistry module gives Nottingham undergraduates first-hand experience of drug discovery, and is intended to introduce chemistry students to the medicinal chemistry skills the pharmaceutical industry requires, while also enhancing knowledge transfer between industry and academia.
The module is the first collaboration of its kind between a pharmaceutical company and a university, and builds on strong historical links between the School of Chemistry and GSK over many years, with GSK a keen recruiter of Nottingham chemistry graduates.