EPSRC Grant Brings Together World Leading Boron Chemistry Research Team

Guy Lloyd-Jones and Allan Watson will head up a world class team working on £6million EPSRC grant to provide major advances in the application of borylated compounds

This month marks the start of an exciting research programme funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The multidisciplinary 5-year programme grant ‘Boron: Beyond the Reagent’ brings together the expertise of world leading boron chemistry researchers at the University of Edinburgh, the University of St Andrews, and the University of Manchester, supported by a number of industrial partners in order to deliver major advances in the understanding and application of borylated compounds across the chemical, biological, and materials sciences.

Specifically, the research programme aims to accelerate the development of bioactive borylated compounds, innovative and scalable methodologies for the manufacture of small molecules, and advanced materials for electronic and separation technologies.


For decades, the under-parameterisation of the physical-organic aspects of borylated species has constrained future developments. This one of a kind programme will leverage strategic combinations of world expertise in mechanism, synthesis, and materials, to advance a broad swathe of new applications


Borylated compounds are cornerstones of the chemical industry and have recently emerged as potential bioactives to tackle antibiotic resistance and other conditions, e.g., postviral fibrosis, a major cause of COVID-19 patient mortality. Boron based OLEDs (organic light emitting diodes) and porous materials are also proving to be promising targets in the field of materials science. However, despite their ubiquity, their potential reactivity has seen limited development and they remain underexplored in functional materials.

This research programme aims to provide a deep understanding of the reactivity of boron in order to generate transformative tools for the formation and manipulation of borylated compounds, thus enabling multi-scale applications for production in the above mentioned fields.

Professor Guy Lloyd-Jones FRS and his team at Edinburgh (including Professors Michael InglesonNeil McKeown, and Stephen Thomas) will lead the grant in collaboration with Professor Allan Watson and his team at St Andrews (Professors Russell Morris FRS, Andrew Smith, and Eli Zysman-Colman), and Manchester (Dr Andrew Leach).

This programme grant does something entirely unique – uniting fundamental science with targeted multidisciplinary applications is a bold way to drive transformative innovation. We are thrilled that EPSRC has supported this adventurous research programme.


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