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York’s key role in European ‘green’ chemistry research project

Posted on 5 December 2012

Scientists in the Department of Chemistry at the University of York are to play a key role in a major new research project which aims to develop sustainable manufacturing routes to pharmaceuticals.

Funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative, CHEM 21 (Chemical Manufacturing Methods for the 21st Century Pharmaceutical Industries) brings together six pharmaceutical companies, three SMEs and research groups from York and nine other universities. The partners have a common goal of developing novel catalytic technologies for chemical synthesis.

The project will focus on the catalysis of base and precious metals, biocatalysis and synthetic biology and will provide a research hub for European efforts in this area. CHEM21 will also act as a source of the latest information on green chemistry metrics and will develop training packages to embed the principles of sustainable manufacture in the education of future scientists.

CHEM21 will run initially for four years with around €1.5M of the €26.4M total budget allocated to York.  The York scientists will be involved in all but one of the six project work packages, including a focus on medicinal and process chemistry education. This will involve developing new greener routes to active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and the development and implementation of a unified sustainability metric toolkit to verify ‘greenness’ of new methodologies from the consortium as a whole.

York provides the leadership of the work package involved in education and training, emphasising our international reputation in green and sustainable chemistry

Professor Richard Taylor

Professor Richard Taylor, Head of Chemistry at the University of York, said:  “This is a unique pan-European opportunity for pharmaceutical companies and specialist SMEs to carry out collaborative research projects with world-class academic groups to develop novel catalytic processes to revolutionise and "green" pharmaceutical synthesis.

“I am extremely pleased to see York Chemistry at the forefront of CHEM21 with five PhD students, two postdoctoral fellows, four academics and additional technical and support staff involved.   In addition to major contributions to the research effort, York provides the leadership of the work package involved in education and training, emphasising our international reputation in green and sustainable chemistry."

Professor James Clark, Director of the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence and Principal Investigator on the project added: "We have been working with the pharmaceutical industry on aspects of green chemistry for more than 10 years.  This is a great opportunity to help the industry adopt greener methods - not only through the best green chemistry but also through high quality training."

CHEM21 is being jointly administered by GSK and the University of Manchester.

Notes to editors:

  • The research leading to these results has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking under grant agreement n°115360, resources of which are composed of financial contribution from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) and EFPIA companies’ in kind contribution.
  • Other members of CHEM21 are: (EFPIA member companies) Bayer Pharma AG, Berlin, Germany; Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Beerse, Belgium; Orion Corporation, Espoo, Finland; Pfizer Limited, Sandwich, UK; Sanofi Chimie, Gentilly, France:  (Universities) Leibniz Institute for Catalysis, Rostock, Germany; Stichting VU-VUMC, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Technische Universität Graz, Graz, Austria; Universität Graz, Graz, Austria; Universität Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany; Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium; University of Durham, Durham, UK; University of Leeds, Leeds, UK: (Small and medium-sized enterprises - SMEs) CatScI Ltd, Wentloog, Cardiff, United Kingdom: ACIB GmbH, Graz, Austria: Charnwood Technical Consulting Ltd, Quorn, UK: Evolva Biotech A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark: Reaxa Limited, Leeds, UK.

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153

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