Imperial College London

DigiFAB expands core leadership team



The Institute for Digital Molecular Design and Fabrication welcomes Professor Kim Jelfs as Co-Director and two new theme co-leads.

The Institute for Digital Molecular Design and Fabrication - DigiFAB hosted at the Department of Chemistry, founded and led by Prof. Sophia Yaliraki, together with the Executive team and the Institute Manager Dr Feng Li, now welcomes new Co-Director Prof. Kim Jelfs. Kim has been leading DigiFAB’s Data and Modelling theme together with Prof. Claire Adjiman. Kim is an award-winning computational chemist, and her group specialises in the use of computer simulations and artificial intelligence to assist in the discovery of supramolecular materials, working closely with experimental researchers.

DigiFAB also welcomes Dr Antonio del Rio Chanona from the Department of Chemical Engineering, who will be co-leading the Data and Modelling theme, and Dr Alex Ganose from the Department of Chemistry who will be co-leading DigiFAB’s Research Data Strategy together with Dr Charles Romain. 

DigiFAB is a key priority of Imperial’s Academic Strategy and a flagship project working across all Faculties and departments. DigiFAB’s vision is to transform chemical design and manufacturing by moving away from slow, labour-intensive manual methods and towards highly automated, data-driven approaches that capitalise upon advances driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Sophia YalirakiProf. Sophia Yaliraki said: “DigiFAB’s success has been down to the excellence, creativity and collaborative spirit of the team at Imperial. As we look to the future, I am delighted that Kim has accepted to lead us in expanding our activities and warmly welcome her to her new role as Co-Director.” 

Kim JelfsProf. Kim Jelfs added: “I am looking forward to working with Sophia to build upon her work founding DigiFAB, and to work together with the ever-growing digital chemistry community at Imperial and beyond. This is an exciting time for research in this area with more automation facilities, data infrastructure, and algorithmic developments at our fingertips".

Since its official launch in May 2021, DigiFAB, a virtual hub for coordination and integration of Imperial’s activities in digital molecular design and fabrication, has brought internal and external stakeholders together though its transdisciplinary, diverse and inclusive leadership, internal Research Board and external Advisory Board, and is already increasing Imperial’s as well as the UK’s competitiveness in the area.

DigiFAB is an umbrella to three automated chemistry facilities; for online reaction analysis and catalysis (ROAR); one for molecular systems and materials (ATLAS), recently launched on 20 April 2023; and one for battery and fuel discovery (DigiBAT), as well as the rEaCt CDT. DigiFAB was instrumental in the creation of a new MSc in Digital Chemistry. These initiatives offer unparalleled access to the state-of-the-art facilities and expertise in automated, data-rich experimentation and the training of master and PhD students as future leaders in digital molecular design and fabrication.

DigiFAB has stimulated over £20M in funding from research funders and industry, and organised several Hackathons and Datathons. UK industries are seeking expertise and facilities to reduce cost of discovery, manufacture and transform supply chains as well as digitising molecular and materials design and fabrication. DigiFAB works with many industry partners, including BASF, P&G, BP and small- and medium-sized enterprises, through funding bids and jointly funded and supervised studentships. In addition, DigiFAB has also established a Research Data Strategy Group for open and reproducible physical science data and had secured funding for this work.

Over the last two years, DigiFAB has established itself as a flag to gather around, locally in White City, supporting and contributing to the White City Innovation District and the local community through Upstream as well as globally, as part of the Acceleration Consortium. DigiFAB produced thought provoking publications and led panels such us Ethics in AI at the recent Jawdrop Summit.

Looking forward, DigiFAB will continue to bring internal and external stakeholders together, leverage funding from research funders and industry through existing mechanisms and new ways of working, providing innovative education programmes and events, lobbying for digital molecular design and fabrication, and shaping the UK and international landscape.

The team is excited to welcome its new Co-Director Prof. Kim Jelfs, new theme co-leads Dr Antonio del Rio Chanona and Dr Alex Ganose to DigiFAB. The team wants to thank everyone for their support, are look forward to seeing DigiFAB continue to grow and working with our existing and new collaborators!


Feng Li

Feng Li
Department of Chemistry