Doctoral Training Centre in Synthetic & Medicinal Chemistry

Since December 2009, the University of Strathclyde and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have entered into a unique and expansive partnership to establish and grow a bespoke collaborative programme within GSK-based drug discovery and development functions.

This has led to a framework being created which enables GSK employees and other hosted researchers to work towards a higher research degree through their work-based projects.

A new collaborative MPhil and PhD Programme, and now a Doctoral Training Centre, has been established within this partnership. The total number of established research studentships reached 57 between 2012 and 2013. This has been achieved by extending the programme beyond medicinal chemistry within GSK and into the areas of:

  1. Fragment-based drug discovery
  2. Process chemistry
  3. Computational chemistry

Additionally, students are also supervised in drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, and biological sciences via the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences.

With funding of approximately £2 million, 28 PhD studentships were started in 2012 and 2013. Sixteen PhD students will be based at GSK Stevenage (on GSK-based programmes with Strathclyde co-supervision). Twelve PhD students will be based at Strathclyde.


  • The uniqueness of this partnership was recognised by the Life Sciences Cross Party Group of the Scottish Parliament and has been endorsed by a Scottish Parliamentary motion
  • The programme was highlighted as an exemplar case study in Sir Tim Wilson’s Review of University Business Collaboration (commissioned by the UK Government)
  • 25 student presentations at external and internal conferences and symposia
  • One of our students, Charlotte Mitchell, was designated as most meritorious runner-up in the 2011 European Federation of Medicinal Chemistry Prize for a Young Medicinal Chemist in Industry. This prestigious prize acknowledges and recognises an outstanding young medicinal chemist working in industry within Europe

We are delighted to partner with the University of Strathclyde on this initiative, which will benefit all parties. Our chemists will be exposed to alternative research strategies, both GSK and the university will gain from the knowledge exchange between higher education and industry, and GSK will have motivated chemists striving for greater scientific excellence in their research.

Dave Allen, Senior Vice-President, Respiratory Therapy Area, and Global Chief Chemist, GSK