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ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable Awards $150,000 to Fund Continuous Flow Research at Leeds, Temple and California State University

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Each year the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable awards targeted grants to fund key research priorities. These grants spur impactful and highly relevant green chemistry research in alignment with the critical needs of the industry. Green research grants of $50,000 each have been awarded by the roundtable to professor Blacker at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, professor Dobereiner at Temple University in Philadelphia, and professor Evans at California State University in Fullerton, California.

John Blacker.jpg

A. John Blacker, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. His winning grant proposal is titled, “Process Development of Continuous Flow Oxidative Biotransformations.” With this award Blacker will research the use of continuous flow processing methods for biological catalysts that employ the clean oxidant, oxygen. “

A key aspect of the research is to increase the reaction rates of these multi-phasic systems through a variety of techniques including engineered enzymes, design of appropriate reactors and processes,” says Blacker. Working with a cross-disciplinary team, consisting of a biologist, chemist and engineer, Blacker hopes their research “will contribute towards greener methods for manufacturing complex organic chemicals.”

Graham Dobereiner, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at Temple University in Philadelphia. He received the award for his submission, “Tandem catalytic process in flow: synthesis of amides via mild photochemical carbonylation using CO2 as a carbonyl source.”


“Carbon dioxide, abundant and renewable, is in many ways the ideal feedstock for fine chemicals production,” says Dobereiner. “We aim to use carbon dioxide to make tiny amounts of carbon monoxide, and simultaneously use that carbon monoxide to make value-added products.” By doing so, his research aims to demonstrate a safer process with reduced toxicity and flammability.

Amanda C. Evans, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at California State University in Fullerton, Ca. She received the award for her submission titled, “Enz-Flow/Continuous Bioprocessing: Towards a green continuous flow synthesis of levomilnacipran.”

“I am synergistically combining the technologies of engineered enzymes and flow chemistry in order to more rapidly, safely and sustainably make molecules,” says Evans. “Our current pharmaceutical target of focus is levomilnacipran, which is a selective serotonin-norepinephrine inhibitor prescribed to treat major depressive disorder.”

The ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable identified priority green engineering research areas for pharmaceutical and fine chemical companies in 2011. The focus of this year’s grant awards is to catalyze research in continuous flow chemistry and engineering using photo redox chemistry, photochemistry, and biocatalysis.


"Flow chemistry / continuous processing have shown great promise in modernizing pharmaceutical production methods,” says Stefan Koenig, Ph.D., ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable co-chair and scientist at Genentech in South San Francisco, Ca. “With these three grants, the GCIPR is funding cutting-edge methods, including (a) oxidative biotransformations, (b) photochemical carbonylations with CO2, and (c) multi-step processes to active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) utilizing a combination of chemical synthesis and biocatalysis. The GCIPR is advancing chemistry within the pharmaceutical industry to make it sustainable for the long-term.”

Since 2005, the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable has given $1.78 million dollars in research grants to advance the sustainability profile of pharmaceutical processes using green chemistry techniques.

The ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable brings global industry leaders together to catalyze the implementation of green chemistry and engineering. Current members include Amgen, AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Codexis, Eli Lilly and Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Inc., Novartis, Pfizer Inc, Roche, Sanofi and ACS GCI.

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