GSK funds “Green Chemistry” research unit in São Paulo

The Brazilian state of  São Paulo is to create  a Centre of Excellence for research in sustainable chemistry.

The Centre,  financed jointly  by UK pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and  the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), is expected to usher in a new age of “green chemistry” as the precursor of new generations of medicines.

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FAPESP and GSK will share equally the funding of  £800,000 per year for a period of 10 years. This is the second such unit sponsored  by GSK. In 2012, the University of Nottingham in the UK began work on company its own Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Chemistry.

Once completed, the new São Paulo centre of excellence will form scientific links with GSK and the University of Nottingham for facilitating the sharing of knowledge and expertise between Brazilian and UK researchers.

The development has been widely reported in pharmaceutical industry media outlets.

To be located in the state of São Paulo, the new Centre of Excellence will have a multidisciplinary approach, seeking greater efficiency in the use of synthetics and in the development of reagents and solvents using feedstocks such as renewable agricultural waste.

This initiative will bring alternatives to the processes and components used today in the pharmaceutical industry, which will allow GSK to incorporate the use of new sustainable chemicals, so contributing directly to meeting targets for reducing carbon emissions.

The agreement was signed in São Paulo  24th October at the administrative headquarters of São Paulo’s state government in the presence of  state governor  Governor Geraldo Alckmin. On the FAPESP side senior officials including President Geraldo Alckmin and scientific director Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz were present. For GSK  the agreement was signed by Rogério Ribeiro, GSK’s senior vice president and general manager of EMAP (Emerging Markets and Asia Pacific) and by Cesar Rengifo, vice president and general manager of GSK Brazil.

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According to the pharmaceutical company’s Rogério Ribeiro: “GSK has a booming business in Brazil. We are delighted to announce our support the new Centre of Excellence for Research in Sustainable Chemistry, an initiative that is part of our continued investment in science. This will contribute decisively to achieving our goal of reducing environmental impact and becoming carbon-neutral by 2050, ” he said.

Mr Ribeiro noted the company has a vibrant and growing business in Brazil and, as part of its continued investment in science in Brazil, it is delighted to announce the support for the new sustainable chemistry centre.

FAPESP’s Celso Lafer said the research center – inspired by the fast-growing CEPID programme of focused research initiated by FAPESP in 2000 – would   address interdisciplinary approaches to deal with complex scientific challenges. “This will lead to the advancement of knowledge in sustainable chemistry and applications with a market value in areas of common interest, ” he said.

GSK’s Brazil country manager Cesar Rengifo said it was expected that, once up and running, the new center will help create a new paradigm in how drugs are manufactured, while fostering science in Brazil.”

To further support the work of the new center, the bodies responsible for its funding also issued  a call for  research proposals (CFP) from  academic institutions in São Paulo. The successful proposals will form the first cohort of research sometime after  August 2014.

This latest announcement builds on GSK’s existing partnership with FAPESP to build a sustainable, long-term scientific research presence in Brazil.  In 2012 the two signed an agreement for development of collaborative research including topics such as respiratory diseases, metabolic, infectious, inflammatory and immunology, as well as tropical and neglected diseases and so-called rare diseases.

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Through its ‘Trust in Science’ programme, GSK aims to support outstanding scientific groups in Latin America to validate and explore compelling ideas to treat priority diseases, including those that have a substantial impact on the health of Latin America.

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