Overview
The major contributors to FoR3 Chemical Sciences at UQ are the School of Chemistry
& Molecular Biosciences (SCMB), the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), and
the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN). Research
from the Centre for Organic Photonic & Electronics (COPE); Centre for Integrated
Preclinical Drug Development (CIPDD); Centre for Nutrition & Food Science (CNAFS)
and the National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology (EnTox) is also well
represented in this FoR.
UQ is active in each of the Chemical Sciences 4-digit FoRs (except 0399) with the
overarching chemistry research themes following the 4-digit FoRs of organic,
inorganic, physical, theoretical and computational chemistry. These core areas
combine in their applications into two broad areas in an integrated and cohesive
manner; biological chemistry and materials chemistry augmented by UQ’s research
Centres and Institutes. For example, IMB and CIPDD specialize in medicinal and
biomolecular chemistry, COPE, AIBN and CNAFS in macromolecular materials
chemistry. Research in analytical chemistry (0301) is not a specific focus of any UQ
organizational unit but it is embedded within projects in environmental science and
toxicology (EnTox) and also analytical biochemistry (CIPDD).
The founding of SCMB within the predominantly biological BACS Faculty initiated
many productive collaborations at the chemical/biological sciences interface
principally within the School’s Centre for Metals in Biology and across UQ (with IMB,
AIBN and CIPDD). This was enhanced by the recruitment of Federation Fellow Alan
Mark and his computational biomolecular chemistry research program. In 2007,
COPE was established, led by Federation Fellow Paul Burn, and this, coupled with
reunification of the chemical, physical, biological and earth sciences within the one
UQ Science faculty, has reinforced interactions at the chemical/physical science
interface.
Publication Profile
All FoRs within chemical sciences are strongly represented in the publication profile.
More than 90% of research outputs comprise ranked journal with >50% in A*/A
ranked journals in all 4-digit FoRs. Publications in physical (0306) and
macromolecular & materials chemistry (0303) are dominant. Publications in 0306
and 0303 share FoR apportionment with chemical engineering (0904) and materials
engineering (0912) reflecting UQ’s research effort at the interface with chemical
engineering and materials science particularly in AIBN.
Medicinal and biomolecular chemistry (0304), coupled with organic chemistry
(0305), is similarly strong in both volume and quality, highlighting the importance of
the chemistry-biology interface where it is co-coded with biochemistry & cell biology
(0601) and pharmacology & pharmaceutical science (1115). The inorganic (0302) and
theoretical & computational chemistry (0307) research outputs are fewer in volume
but strong in terms of citations per paper and the percentages of papers in the
higher-tiered journals.
Capacity and Environment
Over the last 7 years, UQ has invested very considerably in infrastructure benefitting
research in FoR03. In 2003, the $105M Queensland Bioscience Precinct was
completed, housing IMB and constituting a major node of medicinal and
biomolecular chemistry research. In 2006, the $76M AIBN was opened with chemical
science focus on macromolecular and materials chemistry, and nanotechnology.
Concurrently, UQ refurbished and upgraded SCMB Chemistry research facilities to
world class, including new research labs that now house COPE.
UQ Researchers in FoR03 have been successful in winning ARC LIEF and NCRIS funds
for major equipment including a high resolution LC-mass spectrometer (2006 LIEF), a
state of the art dual X-ray source single crystal diffractometer (2007 LIEF) and an
analytical enantioselective chromatography facility (2008 LIEF). In addition, UQ
researchers have access to enabling techniques such as NMR spectroscopy (300, 400,
500, 750 and 900 MHz instruments), an in-house elemental microanalysis facility (in
SCMB, one of the few remaining in Australia) and a full-time glassblowing service.
Microscopy facilities in the UQ Centre for Microscopy & Microanalysis underpin
(nano)materials characterization; high field magnetic resonance equipment for NMR
and EPR are provided by the UQ Centre for Advanced Imaging. The recently
established Qld node of the NCRIS-funded Australian National Fabrication Facility
includes Paul Burn (Deputy Director) and Andrew Whittaker.
Environment
The staffing demographic of UQ chemical sciences is very balanced with new
appointments being made in anticipation of, or coinciding with, retirements of senior
academic staff. The FTE staff in the field of Chemistry (mainly in SCMB) has
continued to grow over 2003-8. Recruitment and retention of internationally
recognized leaders in Chemical Sciences has been facilitated by the ARC Federation
Fellowships to Burn (organic optoelectronics), Lu (nanometrials), Mark
(computational biomolecular chemistry), Trau (biomaterials and nanotechnology)
and Fairlie (medicinal chemistry) and more recently ARC Future Fellowships
(Monteiro: polymer chemistry). The 2006 arrival of Bob Gilbert (FAA) from Sydney in
the School of Land, Crop & Food Science brought a new focus via a major
macromolecular chemistry research program (and a new research Centre, CNAFS).
In addition to Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science (Wentrup & Gilbert),
there has been a longstanding involvement of FoR03 UQ researchers in its leading
learned society, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI), with past National
Presidents (Noller), Branch Presidents (Appleton & Garson, Qld) and Divisional
Presidents (Bernhardt, Inorganic Division) playing major roles. Its highest honours
(the Leighton Medal and H.G. Smith Medal) have been awarded to UQ staff (Gilbert
and Craik) and there are 13 Fellows of RACI at UQ. Senior UQ staff in FoR03 have also
served on the Colleges of Experts or panel members for ARC (Lu, Toth) and NHMRC
(Fairlie) in addition to the major facility NCRIS (Lu) and LIEF panels (Drennan).
Chemical Sciences at UQ has nurtured many ECRs (A and B). On average, 21 ECRs
have been employed per year with publications in leading journals and patents.
Many of these have taken up subsequent positions at prestigious Institutions around
the world including Scripps, Yale, Tokyo, ETH-Zurich, as well as in Australia including
UQ, Melbourne, UNSW and Wollongong.
More than 120 research higher degrees students were being supervised in FoR3 in
2008 and >75 RHDs were awarded, 2003-8. Funding has been primarily through the
APA program, ARC/NHMRC or industry funded PhD stipends in addition to significant
numbers of UQ domestic and international scholarships.
Collaboration
Chemical sciences is an integral part of collaborative research across UQ Schools,
Centres and Institutes and externally, addressing major challenges in materials
science and biology. Chemical science in IMB is founded on novel drug design and
development from organic synthesis to natural products chemistry. Collaborations
with pharmacologists and clinicians are a feature. AIBN research tackles human
health from the physical chemistry perspective including novel vehicles for drug
delivery, improved biomaterials for artificial implants and new diagnostic methods
for diseases such as cancer. CNAFS applies polymer chemistry principles to
understanding the structure of natural macromolecules such as starch with
outcomes in a wide range of areas from nutrition to new starch based materials.
COPE is a major collaboration between Chemistry and Physics in the area of organic
optoelectronics coupling expertise in synthesis, characterization and theory.
Centres and individuals within UQ FoR03 have strong national and international
collaborations and internationally:
COPE has participated in the DEST-ISL
International Consortium on Organic Solar Cells; partnerships in biological and
materials chemistry have included the Universities of Sydney, South Pacific, Griffith,
Adelaide, and Pennsylvania (USA), ANU, Melbourne Museum, Kurt Gustafason
National Cancer Institute (USA), Ning-Hua Tan Kunming Institute of Botany (China),
Danish Technical University, Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung, (Germany),
Harvard Medical School (USA), Santa Caterina Federal University (Brazil), Oxford
(UK), St Andrews (UK), and ETH-Zurich, and many others.
Finally, it is clear from the level of ARC Linkage Projects funding and direct industrial
funding that research in FoR03 has had close collaborations with industry including
local biotechnology and drug discovery companies (e.g. Alchemia, Progen, Mediherb,
Ecobiotics) as well as internationally-based enterprises. Major Qld government
support has been gained for collaborative industry partnerships through the Smart
State/NIRAP schemes, with Trau and Whittaker being particularly successful and
Smart State Fellowships being awarded to Meredith and Schirra
Type
Although chemical sciences at UQ is well represented in the fundamental ‘enabling’
research areas of organic, inorganic and physical chemistry, its largest research
effort, evident in the ERA income and research output data, is in the applied areas of
medicinal & biomolecular chemistry and macromolecular & materials chemistry. This
reflects contemporary demand-driven research led by applications related to human
health (drug design, drug delivery and novel diagnostic approaches) and
sustainability (renewable energy and novel functional materials). Technology
transfer is evident by the volume of patents, industry-supported research and
spinout companies that have emerged from UQ research in chemical sciences
including ElaCor, Nanomics Biosystems, Neurotide etc.
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Overview