Associate Professor Christopher Hyland

UOW researcher awarded more than $1 million to develop tools to advance medicines

UOW researcher awarded more than $1 million to develop tools to advance medicines

ARC Mid-Career Industry Fellowship strengthens industry ties for better outcomes

University of Wollongong (UOW) Associate Professor Christopher Hyland has been awarded an Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Mid-Career Industry Fellowship and more than $1 million in funding to further his ground breaking work in chemical reactions that seeks to create new molecules with pharmaceutical potential.  

Associate Professor Hyland, from the UOW School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience and Molecular Horizons research institute, is working to address difficulties in making medicines by helping create new complex molecules that have been challenging for the pharmaceutical industry to make. These molecules have the potential to be safer and are often more effective as medicines.

The ARC Mid-Career Industry Fellowship aims to bridge the gap between academic research and industry needs using advanced technology.

The research project will be undertaken with industry partner Syntara, a company, to deliver new chemical tools that will make previously inaccessible or difficult to make molecules available for commercial use, in an environmentally sustainable way.

Associate Professor Hyland’s work has long focussed on developing chemical reactions that are efficient and selective and that will reduce waste and energy consumption.

“Many of the chemical processes currently used to make pharmaceuticals utilise decades-old reactions. These tools have often been focussed on building simple flat molecules” Associate Professor Hyland said.

“This project will utilise the skills of the UOW lab to look at new ways to make very complex molecules that have a high degree of three-dimensional character. This will be done collaboratively with the pharmaceutical industry so that they can have access to tools to prepare medicinally important molecules of types they have previously not been able to access.

“Studies have shown that the more complex a molecule is, the better chance it has of making it through the drug discovery process and ultimately becoming a therapy.

“In my research lab, we’re thinking about chemistry in 3D and developing tools and catalysts that can have a downstream impact for industry.

“One of the things I love about this kind of chemistry is that it can be quite theoretical one day, but it can have quite a measurable impact in the not too distant future.

“This project will be about bringing the pharmaceutical industry and the university together, so that we can have a better understanding of what they need, and we can tailor our research towards that.”

UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research and Sustainable Futures) Professor David Currow congratulated Associate Professor Hyland on securing the ARC Fellowship.

“The recognition from the ARC in funding this research underscores Associate Professor Hyland’s dedication to advancing the field of chemistry and holds promise for significant contributions to the pharmaceutical industry. His commitment to innovation is commendable, and we look forward to the valuable contributions this project will make to the field," Professor Currow said.

UOW is committed to addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a shared blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for everyone. This project addresses Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing, which aims to ensure healthy lives and well-being at all ages.