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York scientists win prestigious prizes from Royal Society of Chemistry

Posted on 10 June 2021

Scientists from the University of York have been recognised for their pioneering work in the inaugural ‘Horizon Prizes’ awarded by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

One of the winning teams in the Laser FacilityMembers of one of the winning research teams at the Central Laser Facility. L to R Professor Ian Fairlamb, Dr Jason Lynam, PhD students Jonathan Eastwood and (back) Anders Hammarback. Image: Dr Jason Lynam

These prizes highlight chemical science at the cutting-edge of research and innovation and, importantly, recognise whole teams and collaborations that are opening up new possibilities in their field through groundbreaking scientific developments. 

Pioneering teams

Professor Ian Fairlamb and Dr Jason Lynam, from the Department of Chemistry, were awarded the Perkin Prize in Physical Organic Chemistry after their team created a process that could make thousands of products more sustainable. 

The team worked with the Central Laser Facility STFC and Syngenta Crop Protection to gain important insights into powerful chemical reactions that enable the direct reaction of otherwise unreactive carbon-hydrogen bonds.

The authors said their work had provided a step-change in how we can probe and understand such reactions.

A second team of scientists, led by Professor Gideon Grogan from the Department of Chemistry, were awarded a Rita and John Cornforth Award, for developing a new way to develop medicines more sustainably.

Their work led to the development of a drug for treating small-cell lung cancer and acute leukemia, as well as an improved synthesis of a widely used antidepressant.

Finally, a York chemist was recognised for his contribution as part of a wide-ranging international team that was also recognised with a Rita and John Cornforth Award.

Dr Jon Agirre (York Structural Biology Laboratory, Department of Chemistry) was recognised as part of the research team that used the so-called ‘bump-and-hole’ approach to work with a modified version of a biologically-important enzyme that plays a key role in adding sugars to proteins.

Strength in collaboration

Professor Duncan Bruce, Head of the Department of Chemistry said: “Collaboration has always been a very strong feature of the research ethos in the Department and the power of this approach is amply demonstrated by these awards.”

“These prizes are a fantastic tribute to the skill and dedication of all of those involved, and to receive three prizes in the first year they have been awarded underlines the depth and strength of the work carried out in the department.”

Professor Brian Fulton, Dean of Faculty of Science said: “It is great to see this recognition for the work our colleagues are involved with, especially since all projects tackle key challenges facing society in sustainability and health.”


Further information:

Further information: RSC Horizon Prizes

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Tom Creese
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