Department receives £1 million EPSRC investment in research infrastructure

The University of Sheffield is one of eight universities to receive a share of a major £20 million investment in research infrastructure announced this week by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) on behalf of three other research councils, the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council (BBSRC), Medical Research Council (MRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), who have supported the funding.

NMR 800

Scientists at Sheffield investigating materials and molecular structures will be able to take advantage of new and highly precise scientific instrumentation that will be operating thanks to the investment.

The announcement follows the official launch in London of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), where the investment in very high and ultra-high field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy was unveiled. NMR is a key technique that has impact across a wide span of science from materials science to medicine.

Sheffield’s £1 million investment to the 800 MHz NMR facility, housed in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, will upgrade the equipment with additional high-pressure analytical capability. A planned research programme will accompany the investment to improve chemical manufacture, develop bioenergy materials, photosynthesis and green energy, cancer treatment and biopharmaceutical development.

Professor Mike Williamson, Head of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology said: "This award is great news for us because it will allow us to carry out a much greater range of experiments. Importantly, it also means we will be able to acquire data five times faster, so we will be able to provide a faster and more complete service to local users."

Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), said: “Investing in research infrastructure is a vital component of any forward-looking plan to support science. This EPSRC investment means researchers will have new systems that provide greater sensitivity, enable a wider range of materials to be studied effectively, and a greater understanding of molecular structures, with potential impacts in pharmaceuticals, biomaterials, materials science and biotechnology.”

Other universities benefitting from investment in their NMR facilities include the University of Oxford, the University of Warwick and the University of Edinburgh.