The 26th Process Development Symposium, organised by the Fine Chemicals Group was held at Churchill College Cambridge, on 10-12 December 2008.
The conference was particularly noted for its variety, although a strong theme of novel catalysis in organic chemistry began to emerge as the event progressed. Case studies from around the globe showcased the strength of process development expertise across the chemical industries. From the USA, Dr Albert Kruger of Abbott Laboratories presented his work on a VEGF inhibitor for cancer treatment, while international speakers from F Hoffman-La Roche, Bayer Schering Pharma and Sepracor showed that asymmetric hydrogenation is a common challenge.
Other notable contributors included Dr David Johnson of Lucite International, who gave a particularly eye-opening presentation on the scale up of a process to make 250,000 tonnes per year of methyl methacrylate, while Mr Peter Elliot of Unilever gave his own very entertaining angle on hot issues in IP.
Prof Jianliang Xiao from The University of Liverpool was awarded the GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Pfizer Prize for Process Chemistry Research for 2008 and gave a lecture highlighting his recent contributions to catalytic method development, as applied to industrially important reactions. Academia was further represented by Prof Matthias Beller of the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis, who discussed the need to move to sustainable catalysts, with particular emphasis on reactions mediated by copper and iron.
To encourage future generations of process chemists, 14 PhD students, mostly from UK institutions, received bursaries to attend, and all found the experience to be interesting and enjoyable. After a very successful meeting, which really emphasised the strength of the process development discipline, the organisers and delegates can look forward with anticipation to the 27th renewal, which will be held once again at Churchill College Cambridge, 9-11 December 2009.
Dr Graham McDougald, Syngenta