A banner for the Institute for Digital Molecular Design and Fabrication launch event with the date listed as Tuesday 18th May at 13.30-16.30


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A new Imperial College London Institute for Digital Molecular Design and Fabrication (DigiFAB) will be launched on Tuesday 18 May 2021 13.30-16.30 (BST). It is a unique Institute dedicated to digital molecular design and fabrication. DigiFAB is a key priority of Imperial’s Academic Strategy and it is a flagship project working across all faculties and departments.

DigiFAB’s vision is to transform chemical design, discovery and manufacturing by moving away from slow, labour-intensive manual methods, to highly automated, data-driven approaches that capitalise upon advances driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and work with both academic and industrial partners.

The Institute is led by Professor Sophia Yaliraki  working together with the DigiFAB Executive (Dr Becky Greenaway, Dr Camille Petit, Professor Claire Adjiman, Dr Felice Torrisi, Professor Gavin Davies, Dr Kim Jelfs, Professor Klaus Hellgardt, Professor Mimi Hii), its Research Board, and the External Advisory Board. The Institute is underpinned by four research pillars: Automation; Data and Modelling; Synthesis and Processes; and Sensors and Characterisation Platforms.

The Launch Programme 

Tuesday 18 May 2021 (13.30-16.30, BST)

The Launch recording is available here.

13.30: Welcome
Professor Sophia  Yaliraki, Director of  DigiFAB, Imperial College London
13.35: DigiFAB – an Imperial Academic priority
Professor Ian Walmsley FRS, Provost, Imperial College London
13.45: DigiFAB – its vision and introduction to the Institute
Professor Sophia Yaliraki, Director of DigiFAB, Imperial College London
14.10: Advanced Materials in the Research Funding Landscape
Dr Alex Broomsgrove, Head of Advanced Materials, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
14.30: Computers and automated synthesis, learning to work together to accelerate porous material discovery
Dr Kim Jelfs, Dr Becky Greenaway, DigiFAB Leads, Imperial College London
15.10: Break
15.20: Keynote: Universal Synthesis Machines and Chemputation
Prof. Lee Cronin FRSE, FRSC, Regius Chair of Chemistry, University of Glasgow
15.50: Vision 2030: Opportunities and Challenges for Data-Rich Chemistry in Pharma
Professor Donna Blackmond, The Scripps Research Institute and Chair of the DigiFAB External Advisory Board
16.20: Closing remarks
Professor Oscar Ces, Head of Department of Chemistry, Imperial College London
16:30: End of event

There will also be opportunities for audience members to ask questions.

We hope you will be able to join us.


Professor Ian Walmsley FRS

IanProfessor Ian Walmsley FRS became the second Provost of Imperial College London in September 2018. He is also Chair in Experimental Physics at the College.

Before joining Imperial, Professor Walmsley served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) and Hooke Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Oxford. Professor Walmsley graduated from Imperial with first class honours in physics in 1980, and completed his PhD at the University of Rochester before working as a postdoc at Cornell University. He became Assistant Professor of Optics at the University of Rochester in 1988, and held a number of roles there before joining the University of Oxford in 2001 as Professor of Experimental Physics. He was also a Senior Visiting Fellow at Princeton University. 

He was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) of the University of Oxford in 2009, becoming Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) in 2015. At Oxford, he led the Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub and headed up the creation of the Rosalind Franklin Institute.He was a member of the EPSRC Physics Strategic Advisory Team and was on the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics’ Science Advisory Board. 

In recognition of his contributions to quantum optics and ultrafast optics, Professor Walmsley was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2012. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America. 

Professor Sophia Yaliraki 

SophiaSophia Yaliraki is Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at Imperial College. After studies at Harvard and MIT, her group and collaborators at Imperial have developed multiscale techniques based on graph learning with applications in allosteric drug design, precision healthcare, digital chemistry, computational social science and online learning analytics. She teaches Data Analytics in Chemistry, is the Director of the Institute for Digital Molecular Design and Fabrication (DigiFAB), Co-Director of the rEaCt CDT, and Course Co-director of a new Masters course in Digital Chemistry. She has held recurring visiting appointments in the USA, Europe and Israel and has had an active role in fostering talent from school pupils to academics.

Dr Alex Broomsgrove

Alex BAlex Broomsgrove is the Head of Advanced Materials at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). He has worked within the UK Research Councils for close to a decade holding a range of roles across EPSRC including involvement in establishment of three EPSRC institutes namely, the Henry Royce and Rosalind Franklin Institutes and UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC). Prior to that Alex was a portfolio manager within the EPSRC Engineering theme. His educational background is in the Physical Sciences specifically Inorganic Chemistry.

Dr Kim Jelfs

KimKim is a Reader in Computational Materials Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry. Her group specialises in the use of computer simulations to assist in the discovery of supramolecular materials, particularly porous materials and organic electronics. This includes the development of software to automate the assembly and testing of materials, with the application of artificial intelligence techniques including an evolutionary algorithm.

Dr Becky Greenaway

BeckyDr Becky Greenaway is a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry. Her group specialises in the design and synthesis of molecular organic materials, such as organic cages and self-sorted assemblies formed using dynamic covalent chemistries, and porous liquids. This involves the use of high-throughput robotic platforms to streamline the process, and the development of hybrid discovery workflows with collaborators, combining high-throughput automation with computational modelling, to both guide and accelerate discovery.

Professor Lee Cronin FRSE, FRSC

LeeLeroy (Lee) Cronin managed to somehow convince the queen of England to allow him to become the Regius Professor of Chemistry in Glasgow (he joined Glasgow as a lecturer and climbed up to this ‘chair’). Since the age of 9 Lee has wanted to explore science using electronics to control matter but was surprised to make it to university as he was deemed to be of sub normal intelligence when he was 12 (which is probably correct and made worse by his Asperges which means he is very direct and annoying). His research spans many disciplines and has four main aims: the construction of an artificial life form; the digitization of chemistry; the use of artificial intelligence in chemistry including the construction of ‘wet’ chemical computers; the exploration of complexity and information in chemistry. His group is organised and assembled transparently around ideas, avoids hierarchy, and aims to mentor researchers using a problem-based approach. Nothing is impossible until it is tried. He thinks most people are being too boring because they are scared of being wrong and hopes to be a role model at convincing people to put being interesting ahead of being right in when it comes to fundamental science.

Professor Donna Blackmond

DonnaDonna G Blackmond received a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University. She has held professorships in chemistry and in chemical engineering in the US, Germany, and the UK, and she has worked in the pharmaceutical industry. She is Professor of Chemistry, Department Chair, and the John C. Martin Endowed Chair in Chemistry at Scripps Research, La Jolla, California. She holds joint US/UK citizenship. Prof. Blackmond has been recognized internationally for her research including awards from the British Royal Society, the German Max-Planck-Gesellschaft and the American Chemical Society. She is an elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the US National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. She has been a Woodward Visiting Scholar at Harvard, a Miller Institute Research Fellow at Berkeley, an NSF Visiting Professor at Princeton, the Givaudan-Karrer Lecturer at University of Zürich, and the Gordon Lecturer at the University of Toronto.

Prof. Blackmond’s research focuses on mechanistic studies of organic reactions, including asymmetric catalysis. She pioneered the methodology of “Reaction Progress Kinetic Analysis (RPKA)” for fundamental mechanistic studies of complex organic reactions as well as for streamlining pharmaceutical process research. Prof. Blackmond is a Simons Investigator in the Simons Foundation Collaboration on the Origins of Life where she studies prebiotic chemistry and the origin of biological homochirality. She has been invited by the Swedish Academy of Sciences to speak at two Nobel Workshops, “On the Origin of Life” (2006) and “Chiral Matter” (2021).

Professor Oscar Ces

OscarProf Oscar Ces is currently Head of the Chemistry Department at Imperial College London, Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Chemical Biology and the Leverhulme Doctoral Training Centre for Cellular Bionics, Co-Director of fabriCELL, Co-Director of the Membrane Biophysics Platform (MBP) and Academic Co-Director of the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace. He is a leading specialist in biomembrane engineering, drug-membrane interactions, biomimicry, soft condensed matter, chemical biology, microfluidics, artificial cells, single cell analysis and lipid membrane mechanics.