It is with deep regret that we announce that one of the Foundation’s longest serving Trustees has recently died. Barry Lock was Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson’s personal solicitor and was involved in setting up the Foundation. He retained a deep interest in the workings of the Foundation in both managing the finances and approving projects until his peaceful death in April, 2021. He has had a major influence on the Foundation and will be sorely missed.
Following the great success of the European Young Chemists’ Network (EYCN) Video competition in 2019 Chemistry Rediscovered – In your Element, which the foundation sponsored. The Wilkinson Charitable Foundation has agreed to become the permanent sponsor of the video competition, now to be called: Chemistry Rediscovered – The Sir Geoffrey Wikinson EYCN Video Competition.
This year the subject will be Safety in Chemistry. For all information and a submission form please visit:
Videos submitted to the 2019 competition can be found on YouTube at: ‘Chemistry Rediscovered 2019 – In Your Element’
Sir Christopher Dobson, former Master of St John’s College, Cambridge, was and a Trustee of the Wilkinson Charitable Foundation and an outstanding researcher in the area of protein folding. This work is leading to new approaches to the treatment of diseases of ageing such as Alzheimer’s disease. In order to help ensure that this important work continues, the Foundation has endowed a PhD studentship at St John’s College in memory of Sir Christopher. It is anticipated that the first student to be funded through this studentship should start work later in 2021.
Full details are available at the St John’s website:
During the Covid-19 pandemic, face to face conferences have not been possible. However, on-line conferences and poster competitions have been flourishing. The Foundation funded prizes for the Global Inorganic discussion weekend on-line poster competition.
The event was a major success attracting 165 participants from 20 countries, and 50 judges from around the world. The tweets accrued 7600+ likes, 1000s of retweets, offered a social reach of 18,000+ people, and trended 4th in Canada on the morning of July 9th!
The winners of the Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Prizes are pictured below. Many congratulations to all of them and to the organisers led by Marcus Drover, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Following the success if the video competition, In their Element, run by the European Young Chemists’ Network, in which the Wilkinson Charitable Foundation funded the Prize for the best video in the under 18 category, the Foundation has now agreed to sponsor the whole biennial competition from 2021. The competition will be called: The Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson EYCN Video Competition
It is with deep sadness that we report the death, on Sunday 8th September 2019, of Sir Christopher Dobson, FRS, a Trustee of the Wilkinson Charitable Foundation.
Chris Dobson was born in Germany in October 1949 to parents who were stationed there with the British Army. It was his father’s military career that led him to spend some of his youth abroad in countries including Nigeria. Chris was educated in the UK first at Hereford Cathedral Junior School then at Abington School.
BSc and PhD Degrees at Oxford were followed by Fellowships in Oxford and a short spell in Harvard before returning to a Lectureship in Chemistry at Oxford and Fellowship of Lady Margaret Hall. He quickly rose through the ranks being appointed Professor in 1996, the year he was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Chris Dobson built a strong and world leading group in Oxford before moving to Cambridge as John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Chemical and Structural Biology (2001), subsequently becoming Master of St John’s College in 2007. Chris Dobson founded the Cambridge Centre for Misfolding Diseases in 2012 and cofounded Wren Therapeutics, a spin-out company, in 2016. He was knighted in the Birthday Honours, 2018.
Most of Chris Dobson’s research concerned studies, mainly using NMR methods, of how proteins fold and misfold. He postulated that misfolding can lead to disease states and discovered that, under some circumstances, proteins can spontaneously degrade into amyloid plaques. Since amyloid plaques are found in brains of people who have died from Alzheimer’s disease, it appeared that there might be a clear connection between protein misfolding and Alzheimer’s disease. Much of the recent work of Chris’s group has involved obtaining a detailed understanding of how proteins misfold and how that misfolding can be reversed or interrupted. The group has made remarkable progress and the possibility of a cure for Alzheimer’s and related diseases has become much closer as a result of their pioneering studies. Wren Pharmaceuticals has been set up to exploit these findings and to develop therapeutic agents arising from them. Chris Dobson authored around 900 publications with an h index of >130 and around 5000 citations per year. Aside for his Fellowship of the Royal Society and Knighthood, Chris Dobson has been awarded accolades from countries as diverse as India, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland, German and the United States. Amongst his many UK medals and prizes are both the Davy and Royal Medals of the Royal Society.
Sir Christopher Dobson supervised and mentored a very large number of postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows, showing that balance of total academic integrity and rigour with compassion and humanity that is the mark of an outstanding supervisor. He also employed these skills to be a much loved and highly successful Master of St. John’s College Cambridge.
Chris Dobson became a Trustee of the Wilkinson Charitable Foundation about 3 years ago bringing a deep knowledge of Chemistry and very significant financial experience. He has helped steer the Foundation towards the funding of many chemistry related projects always offering advice with great charm and tact.
Chris Dobson is survived by his wife Mary, formerly Director of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine in Oxford and their two sons, Richard and William. He touched the lives of everyone he met and will be very sorely missed by so many.
16th September, 2019
The world’s oldest printed Periodic Table Walchart, printed in 1885, finds a new home on the wall at Burlington House. It is the first time it has been seen in public for over 100 years. The Foundation funded its transport to Burlington House from St Andrews. It is hanging alongside the EuChemS Periodic Table showing element scarcity. The picture was taken at the Royal Society of Chemistry Summer Party (2019).
We have new video recollections of Geoff – from his daughter, touching on home life, from Bill Griffith and Jon McCleverty on life in the research group, and Bob Tooze on Geoff as a lecturer and PhD supervisor:
The RSC Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Dalton Poster Symposium is an annual event, supported by the Wilkinson Charitable Foundation, and hosted by the Dalton Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry. In odd years, the conference takes place as a standalone event at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s London headquarters, Burlington House. In even years, the event is a part of the popular biennial Dalton Joint Interest Group meeting, and takes place at the University of Warwick.
Above: Gallery of winners from 2019, all photos © Royal Society of Chemistry.
The poster symposium, which has been running since 2015, provides an opportunity for talented young inorganic chemists undertaking a PhD or postdoc to present their work to the wider community, practice their presentation skills, raise their visibility and make research connections for future collaborations. Posters are assessed by a panel of expert judges, and the winners receive bursaries to attend an international conference.
Find out more about the 2019 event through the link below to the RSC:
Lucy Johnstone, Philanthropy Lead.
Royal Society of Chemistry
The Wilkinson Charitable Foundation funds a PhD studentship at Imperial College. The current student (since September 2019) is Filip Aniés, who is studying for his PhD under the direction of Profs Martin Heeney and John de Mello.
Originally from Sweden, Filip came to the UK in 2014 to study Chemistry at Imperial College London. He gained his first experience of academic research as a research intern at KAUST, Saudi Arabia, where he worked on organic photovoltaic devices (OPVs) with Prof Iain McCulloch and Prof Derya Baran. Having thoroughly enjoyed this experience, he continued to work in the area of organic semiconductors (OSCs) through his Master’s project, where he synthesised new OSCs with applications in organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) under supervision of Prof Martin Heeney. This experience fuelled his passion for the synthesis and design of functional materials.
Being awarded the Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Studentship Prize in 2018, Filip was given the opportunity to enrol for PhD studies under joint supervision of Prof Martin Heeney and Prof John de Mello. Shifting his focus to inorganic functional materials, Filip is currently researching synthetic processes for plasmonic materials.
Synthetic processes for plasmonic materials
Surface plasmons are collective electron oscillations confined to a material surface, and they interact strongly with light waves of equal frequency. Because the optical properties of plasmonic nanoparticles are mainly dependent on particle size and shape – rather than on the intrinsic properties of the material – there is widespread interest in the control of such features. Plasmonic nanoparticles have several applications, including biosensing and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), and by tuning the optical properties of the particles they can be optimised for specific purposes.
The focus of Filip’s current research project is the synthesis of silver nanoprisms. By combining flow synthetic methods with in-line optical characterisation, Filip aims to automate the synthesis and facilitate the tunability of silver nanoprisms via live product monitoring and facile adjustment of reaction conditions. This approach could potentially be extended to a self-optimising system, or be applied to further plasmonic and optical materials.