Research team kicks off science jobs drive

November 9, 2006

Liverpool's £17m revamp aims to tempt chemists North, reports Anthea Lipsett.

Liverpool University has lured a team of leading international chemists to Merseyside in an effort to put itself on the map as a leading centre for chemistry.

The new professorial appointments are part of a £17 million investment to revamp the university's facilities. The move bucks the trend of chemistry closures and should make Liverpool an attractive destination for staff in the beleaguered field.

The bulk of the cash will go to modernising laboratory equipment. More researcher appointments are also expected.

Jon Saunders, pro vice-chancellor for research, said: "You need leaders first, but once they generate research, recruitment at the lower levels will come."

Andrew Evans, a leading organic chemist from Indiana University in the US was recruited with at least ten of his research team.

Mats Persson, professor of chemistry from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, joined to focus on close contact between surfaces, molecules and atoms.

Professor Saunders said: "We have not invested enough in our infrastructure. A large part of the cash is to bring this up to modern standards."

Some £8.2 million - from industry, the university, the Northwest Development Agency and the European Union - will be ploughed into setting up a Centre for Materials Discovery.

This will focus on using modern techniques to discover functional materials for applications in areas such as medicine, communications technology and energy storage.

The centre will be open to Merseyside businesses to enable them to embrace the use of high- throughput technologies. These, Professor Saunders explained, allow "academics and commercial partners to make chemical compounds rapidly on a large scale".

He added: "A lot of that is about making materials compatible with human tissue that may have uses in medical devices."

Some £2 million from the Science Research Investment Fund will be used for new laboratory infrastructure for materials chemistry research.

Liverpool's organic chemistry labs will benefit from an input of £4.5 million.

A collaboration between Liverpool, the Centre for Process Innovation, ICI Measurement Science Group, Johnson Matthey and QinetiQ Nanomaterials will get £2.3 million.


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