Chemistry at King’s

Reflecting its strength in life sciences, King’s College London has introduced a new undergraduate degree to its portfolio – MSci Chemistry with Biomedicine – the only programme of its kind in the UK.

With the first intake in September 2012, the four-year programme is designed to train the next generation of chemists interested in applying their science in biomedicine and healthcare research and development, in industry, academia and the health services.

Chemistry has been taught at King’s since the founding of the College in 1831, when John Frederic Daniell was appointed the first Professor of Chemistry. Daniell invented the first electrochemical cell, laying down the foundations of the study of electrochemistry and hence influencing the study of Physical Chemistry.

The new course will impart a full understanding of fundamental chemistry, working to the Royal Society of Chemistry standards for an accredited course. But it will take its examples, and increasingly base its projects, upon chemistry applied to biomedical applications, drawing upon the wide expertise of King’s in imaging, drug discovery, delivery, analysis and detection, macromolecular structure determination, materials science and nanotechnology.

The aim of the course is to produce well-educated chemists whose outlook upon possible applications of chemistry has been broadened by systematic exposure to this range of biomedical applications.

Chemistry is already embedded in a range of multidisciplinary activities throughout the College, for example imaging and materials science, molecular and cellular biophysics, pharmaceutical and forensic science.

To provide a coherent identity for chemistry at King’s, the College is forming a new Department of Chemistry in the School of Natural & Mathematical Sciences. King’s is recruiting a Head of Department and investing initially in four Lecturers/Senior Lecturers over the next few years. The many chemists already embedded within different research Divisions across King’s will be affiliated to the department to promote discipline identity and contribute to departmental activities.

Professor Roger Morris, Head of Biomedical Sciences at King’s, said:
‘This is a very exciting time for both the College and the wider Chemistry community.

‘There has never been any doubt about the importance of Chemistry as a basic science at King’s, and it has grown in importance with now over 30 chemists embedded in many departments throughout the College.

‘This has allowed up to build up the infrastructure and grant support for chemistry as a fundamental element in biomedical and material science, including for instance analytical science in which our excellence will be very evident next summer as we, in partnership with GSK, provide the drug testing for London’s Olympics and Paralympics.

‘Fortunately, the importance of a chemical education is now realised in UK schools and very good students are now flooding into chemistry undergraduate courses. We are therefore grasping this opportunity to launch a new chemistry degree, with biomedicine in which we excel, and in which future career prospects for graduates are particularly promising.’

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Interim Chief Executive, Robert Parker, said: ‘We warmly welcome the commitment to science, and chemistry in particular, that the opening of King’s chemistry department heralds. Chemistry courses are now flourishing all around the country, as young people recognise that a chemistry degree teaches skills for a whole range of career possibilities. So it is fantastic to witness the UK’s chemistry teaching and research potential receive yet another boost at a university with such a rich tradition in science.’

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