5th Graduate Student Symposium on Molecular Imprinting

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Molecularly Imprinted Polymers (MIPs) are polymers formed via a template-directed synthesis, giving rise to materials with template-complementary binding sites. These materials are distinguished from other template-synthesised nanostructured materials by their ability to rebind their template molecule with high affinity and selectivity. Thus, materials programmed to recognise a wide range of target structures may be prepared, with many showing affinities and selectivities on a par with those of antibodies. However, unlike their biological counterparts, MIPs are easy to prepare and are extremely robust. This has led to them being studied in many different contexts, such as solid phase extractions (SPE), enantiomer separations, sensor devices, catalysis and drug discovery and delivery.

The aim of this series of free meetings is to give young researchers active in the field of Molecular Imprinting the opportunity to present their work, network with other researchers and to be informed of the latest developments in the area. The invited keynote speakers deliver tutorial presentations, aiming to educate early-stage researchers in a particular aspect of the technology.

At this Symposium, the largest since its establishment in 2002, the organisers welcomed 44 graduate students working in twelve countries, together with two keynote speakers. There were 25 oral and 17 poster presentations of very high quality, spanning a wide range of imprinting topics, including tailor-made functional monomer design and synthesis, polymerisation formats, solid-phase extractions, membrane separations and sensors. The targets ranged from environmental pollutants and pharmaceuticals to disease biomarkers and biomacromolecules.

The keynote lectures were delivered by Dr Michael Whitcombe (Cranfield University, UK), who discussed some “myths and legends” of Molecular Imprinting, and Dr Richard Ansell (University of Leeds, UK), who explained the nature of pre-polymerisation interactions between functional monomers and templates and presented methods of studying the complexes formed.

The invited speakers, together with the organisers, were tasked with judging the quality of each presentation, which resulted in the award of a Best Oral presentation to Irina Valtcheva (Imperial College London, UK), and Best Poster presentation to Evelien Kellens (Hasselt University, Belgium). Each student received a book prize kindly donated by RSC Publishing.

The high levels of participation in the Q&A section after each talk, the lively discussions at the poster sessions and during the breaks and social events and the very positive feedback received at the end of the Symposium, verified that the informal format of the meeting appeals to early-stage researchers. The opportunity to meet and converse with the invited speakers was also particularly welcomed.

In closing, the Organising Committee consisting of Prof Börje Sellergren (University of Malmö, Sweden), Dr Andrew J Hall (University of Kent, UK) and Dr Panagiotis Manesiotis (Queen’s University Belfast, UK), wish to express their gratitude to the Materials Division of the RSC and the Marie Curie EU FP7 Network (PEPMIP) for the financial support which allowed this meeting to take place as a free event. We also thank all the graduate students who attended for their contribution to the success of the meeting and look forward to the next Symposium which we intend to hold in 2015.

For more information on this event as well as the next Symposium, please contact us at gssmip@gmail.com.

Period19 Aug 2013

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