Sir Allen McClay Opens New £1.25 million Laboratory of Biology Chemistry at Queens

February 13, 2006

Sir Allen McClay CBE, Chairman and founder of Almac Sciences, will today (Monday),

officially open a new £1.25 million Laboratory of Biological Chemistry at Queen’s.

The opening of the new laboratory, which has been specifically designed to cater for the rapidly developing research activities at the interface between Chemistry and Biology, will mark the end of a major building programme within the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, which began in 1999.

Originating from a report commissioned by Queen’s on the future development of its School of Chemistry in 1997, the programme of building work was carried out in parallel with the appointment of 11 new academic posts within the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Six of those posts were funded by the McClay Trust, with the Trust also providing funding for equipment and postgraduate studentships.

Speaking about the completion of the building plan and the appointment of the new academic posts, Professor John Mann, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Queen’s said: “Today provides us with a suitable opportunity to publicly thank Sir Allen for his past generosity, from which the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s has benefited enormously.

“The University developed a vision for the School of Chemistry, in which it was imperative to not only have on board a full team of leading academic staff, but also, perhaps crucially, to create an environment in which its students would be able to undertake their studies and perform their valuable research within some of the best facilities within the UK.

“Work carried out within the lab we are opening today may, in the future, contribute to the development of new treatments. The work carried out by The Synthesis and Biological Chemistry Group (Syn BioC) is one such example. Its overall aim is to understand the mechanisms by which cells communicate both internally and between one another. This should lead to a greater understanding of what is known as cell signalling and so allow for the design and synthesis of novel molecules which can moderate these signalling activities.

“We look forward to seeing the efforts of our students in their new laboratory, making a positive and very real difference to how we will all live our lives in the future”.

The opening of the new laboratory will cap a morning of lectures sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry, at which Professor Mann will deliver the Flintoff medal lecture. The lecture is a prestigious honour given for meritorious contributions to the knowledge of the relationship between chemistry and plant science. Previous recipients have included Sir Robert Robertson and Melvin Calvin, the scientist who worked out the chemistry of photosynthesis in 1954.

Also speaking at the RSC event will be Professor Kevin Booker-Milburn, Professor of Organic Chemistry at Bristol and Professor Steven Ley FRS, Chair of Organic Chemistry at the University of Cambridge. Steven Ley, FRS, who will be delivering the prestigious Robert Robinson Lecture was one of the original team who delivered the 1997 report on the School of Chemistry at Queen’s.

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