UK-wide chemistry award for Strathclyde student

Hannah Lithgow with award presenter The Rt Hon The Lord Willetts (left) and Reverend Professor Michael Reiss, Master of the Salters’ Company 2017. Photo by John Spragg.

A PhD student at the University of Strathclyde has won a UK-wide award, recognising her potential to make a major contribution in the future in the world of chemistry.  

Hannah Lithgow is among four winners of the prestigious Centenary Award, made by science education charity the Salters’ Institute to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2018. She is currently working on research in an emerging field of chemistry and chemical biology.

The Salters’ Institute Centenary Awards have been presented to recognise and support individuals who are starting out in their career and who have the potential to make an outstanding long-term contribution to the chemical and allied industries.

Hannah was nominated for the award by Strathclyde. Her research is in the area of protein degradation, with the aim of developing new treatments for disease.

In her third year of a collaborative PhD programme run by Strathclyde and pharmaceutical firm GSK, Hannah is currently based at GSK’s Medicines Research Centre in Stevenage. She received her award of £2,500 at a ceremony in London this month.

Hannah said: “It’s fabulous to receive this award and quite unexpected. Protein degradation is a new area of chemical biology that takes a novel approach to drug discovery and it is very exciting to be a part of this process.

“Traditionally, disease treatment can include drugs which take a ‘blockade’ approach to a disease-causing target. Protein degradation is aimed at removing the problem completely.

“It tackles the disease-causing protein by utilising the body’s natural process to remove proteins. My research has mainly explored cancer but it also has possibilities for a whole range of diseases and could create a new era of medicines.”

Hannah is due to complete her PhD in 2019. She then aims to seek a career in industry.               

Dr Liz Jennings, Chairman of the Centenary Awards Selection Panel, said “We are looking to reward individuals who will make an outstanding long-term contribution to the chemical industry, the leaders of the future.

The standard of all the applications was very high and we had quite a difficult task on our hands to choose between such good candidates. Hannah can be very proud of her achievement – she was very impressive and very worthy of an award.” 

Outstanding

Professor William Kerr, University of Strathclyde and Collaborative PhD Programme Director, said: “This is an outstanding and well-deserved achievement for Hannah, who is a PhD student of the highest quality. Her contributions to the area of protein degradation are innovative and are key to the development of this area overall.

“The Strathclyde-GSK PhD partnership is a unique research endeavour that allows PhD students to work on projects aligned to real drug discovery and development priorities, and we are extremely pleased to witness our students’ calibre being recognised at this level.”

Hannah’s success follows two Graduate Awards presented by the Salters’ Institute to Strathclyde students in recent years – Chemical Engineering alumna Carol Nairn in 2016 and Chemistry alumnus Chris Steven in 2012.