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World-leading science at Cardiff

09 Mai 2007

An international research centre ‘poised to push back the frontiers of science in a spectacular fashion’ has opened at Cardiff University.

The School of Chemistry’s Cardiff Centre for Physical Organic Chemistry was officially opened by Nobel Laureate, Professor Robert Grubbs.

Professor Grubbs, awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis, delivered a lecture to mark the opening of the Centre’s new state-of-the-art laboratory.

Research at the Centre will benefit many areas, from new medicines to greener processes. It is led by Professor Barry Carpenter, who joined Cardiff from Cornell University. Dr Niek Buurma and Dr Eric Tippmann have also recently been appointed as lecturers in Physical Organic Chemistry.

Speaking at the event, leading chemist Sir John Cadogan (former Director of Research of the BP Group and former Director General of UK Science Research Councils) welcomed the "great step forward for world leading science in the UK" by a Centre "poised to push back the frontiers of science in a spectacular fashion."

Historically, the United Kingdom played a leading role in the early development of the field of Physical Organic Chemistry. However, this field was singled out in an International Review of Chemistry (the ‘Whitesides Report’) as being less strong in the United Kingdom at the present time than would be expected for a nation at the forefront of international research in Chemistry. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) called for bids from leading universities, won by Cardiff, to secure the UK’s position.

Professor Kingsley Cavell, Head of the School of Chemistry said: "The establishment of the Cardiff Centre for Physical Organic Chemistry marks a major coup for Cardiff. It will now serve as a focal point to re-invigorate this area of research activity, and to re-establish the United Kingdom as a major player in this field of research in the international arena."

The School of Chemistry won a grant of £4.2 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), under the Science and Innovation Awards scheme, to establish the new centre. Cardiff is the first of only two universities in the UK to benefit from the research council’s investment in this area. The Centre is also supported by substantial on-going investment from the University and funding from the Higher Education Funding Council of Wales.

In addition to Sir John Cadogan other distinguished guests welcomed by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant, included former Director of the Royal Institution, Sir John Meurig Thomas, an Honorary Fellow of the University and former Master of Peterhouse and Dr Lesley Thompson, Director Research and Innovation at the EPSRC.