Aston University secures a £10 million grant from Research England to create the Aston Institute for Membrane Excellence.

Aston University is set to establish the Aston Institute for Membrane Excellence (AIME), a globally distinctive interdisciplinary institute dedicated to innovating biomimetic membranes, following a substantial £10 million grant from Research England.

AIME will be overseen by Professor Roslyn Bill from the School of Biosciences, alongside co-lead Professor Paul Topham from the department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry (CEAC).

Membranes, whether biological or synthetic, play a crucial role across various sectors. For instance, the top ten best-selling human medicines globally target proteins in biological membranes, while synthetic polymer membranes are integral to the $100 billion per year water purification industry.

The team driving AIME believes that unlocking the full potential of membranes necessitates an interdisciplinary approach spanning biology, physics, and chemistry to comprehensively explore membrane properties.

Professor Bill, an Advanced grantee of the European Research Council (ERC), heads the Aston Membrane Proteins and Lipids (AMPL) research center of excellence, focusing on the structure and function of membrane proteins and associated lipids. Professor Topham leads the Aston Polymer Research Group (APRG), which delves into the nanoscale behavior of block copolymers and polymer technologies for membranes.

Collaborative research has already commenced between AMPL and APRG, and AIME aims to amalgamate the complementary expertise of both research clusters under one institute.

Initially comprising eight researchers from AMPL and APRG, AIME will be spearheaded by co-leads Professor Bill and Professor Topham, supported by Dr. Alan Goddard, Professor Andrew Devitt, Professor Corinne Spickett, Dr. Alice Rothnie, Dr. Matt Derry, and Dr. Alfred Fernandez.

The institute plans to recruit three additional academics, six tenure-track research fellows, three postdoctoral research assistants (PDRAs), six PhD students, a research technician, and a business development manager.

AIME will collaborate with existing Aston University colleagues to foster a comprehensive research community dedicated to all facets of membrane science.

The newly formed AIME team will concentrate on developing bioinspired, highly selective polymer structures for applications in water purification and waste remediation, nanoparticles loaded with therapeutic molecules for treating various disorders, and the purification of individual membrane proteins with polymers for drug target exploration.

AIME aspires to serve as a hub for interdisciplinary, translational membrane research through its facility access and expertise, strategically positioned at the heart of the nation.

Professor Bill expressed: “The establishment of AIME is groundbreaking. Together with Aston’s investment, E3 funding will enable us to address scientific challenges in health, disease, and biotechnology by combining our expertise in polymer chemistry and membrane biology.”


Professor Topham added: “We are enthusiastic about collaborating closely with Biosciences experts to develop advanced technology that addresses real-world issues. Our focus on molecular engineering aligns with our commitment to a sustainable future.”

Professor Aleks Subic, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Aston University, highlighted AIME’s role as a regional, national, and global leader in membrane science, driving impactful research and innovation.

The West Midlands Combined Authority expressed delight in Research England’s support for AIME, emphasizing the potential for advancements in membrane technology through collaboration with businesses.

Midlands Mindforge acknowledged the grant as a vote of confidence in the Midlands scientific R&D ecosystem, recognizing AIME’s potential to drive breakthroughs in membrane science.

Bruntwood SciTech commended Aston University’s initiative in launching AIME, emphasizing its contribution to advancing interdisciplinary research and enhancing the region’s research capabilities.

Recent grants have further bolstered membrane research at Aston University, indicating ongoing progress in understanding brain cell water channels and developing biomimetic membranes for water purification.

Source :Aston University


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