Richardson bursary winner Karine Hakobyan visits SCI PDS

14 May 2014

A Richardson Travel Bursary, together with another bursary, gave me a unique opportunity to take part in the 31st SCI Process Development Symposium (PDS), at Churchill College, Cambridge, which I combined with a research visit to the University's chemistry department.

At the PDS, I had a chance to listen to and meet with a wide range of experts from the leading pharmaceutical companies. Over the three days of the symposium, speakers from industry and academia shared their experience and latest findings, clarified how a laboratory procedure can successfully become extrapolated from basic research into a small-scale production and further up to a full-sized industrial process.

The accompanying exhibition showcased equipment for chemical production of varying scales. The extremely helpful and informal discussions around such equipment further outlined the possibilities of their usage and transfer to our production lines in Armenia. These are small-scale production of non-protein amino acids at Armenian Biotechnology SPC.

Thanks to the Richardson Travel Bursary, I extended my stay in Cambridge for a learning experience and the establishment of new collaborative ties. Of particular use was the interaction with Dr Sahakyan, who provided a consultancy on how the computational chemistry (quantum mechanical methods and density functional theory) techniques might be of use to understand the molecular mechanisms of the chiral catalysts I work on, with the potential of further optimising our asymmetric catalytic processes.

I was closely supervised to complete a number of useful tutorials for mastering molecular modelling techniques in a user level, and I am looking forward to transferring these techniques to the catalyst-substrate complexes of my interest.

Although, in my Armenian laboratory, we might experience certain problems with the computational power for completing such calculations, the establishment of continuous ties with the Cambridge counterpart will be of great help in this regard.

As a young researcher working in academy (Yerevan State University) and a small-scale production (Armenian Biotechnology SPC), I can firmly state that my time spent in Cambridge was an extremely useful and efficient one, first of all empowering me with an immense storage of inspiration that will surely last for a long time. I would thus like to use this opportunity to wholeheartedly thank SCI, for such a generous support that transpasses borders.

Karine Hakobyan
Yerevan State University, Armenia

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