Chemistry for Health and Sustainability

Our leading research in chemistry focuses on health, energy and sustainability, mapping squarely onto pressing national and global issues. 

Chemistry for Health and SustainabilityBy working at the interface of several disciplines, as well as being strong in fundamental areas of theoretical and experimental Chemistry, research in the School of Chemistry is creating real societal impact. The Chemistry-Life Science and Chemistry-Medicine cross-overs exploit biointerfaces, bioimaging and biosensors, for example facilitating drug design. In collaboration with Chemical and Materials Engineering, Materials Chemistry is helping develop fuel cells, which can efficiently convert chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through chemical reactions. Research in these areas is underpinned by computational studies.

Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery

Our researchers are exploiting the power of catalysis and synthesis to generate new molecules and materials, which are being used to probe the function and behaviour of biological systems, source new drug molecules and generate drug delivery systems, such as nanoparticles whose application in drug delivery is set to spread rapidly. With a large, well-established and vibrant research base in the life sciences and medicine at Birmingham, the possibility for translating fundamental chemistry into therapeutic application is very real; diseases currently being targeted include various cancers, TB and irritable bowel syndrome, together with infection, resistance to antibiotics and vaccine development. 

Imaging in Chemistry and Biomedicine

Our research is developing the chemical tools and materials required to image biological systems, and in so doing, provide new insights into how they function at hitherto unprecedented resolution. It draws together synthetic and biological chemists interested in molecular probe design and physical and computational chemists developing instrumental approaches to imaging. New fluorescent, Magnetic Resonance Imaging and molecular probes are being developed for imaging blood flow, labelling and tracking cells, and visualising and quantifying receptors to guide therapeutic treatment. This research is leading to new understanding in diverse areas ranging from sperm movement and modelling of force generation by flagella to adhesion of platelets and leukocytes to the walls of vessels, vital for understanding thrombosis and inflammation.

Materials Chemistry and Energy

Materials chemistry covers subjects from ceramics to nanomaterials, biomaterials and organic solids. Our research underpins a range of industrially important areas, with a major focus on new materials for energy technologies. Efficient energy storage and production is a grand challenge facing our society, and meeting this challenge requires new directions to achieve the step change in performance to make the necessary advances. Our research is targeting the next generation of materials for hydrogen storage, fuel cell, battery, solar cell, and nuclear industries. This research is underpinned by fundamental experimental and computer modelling studies into the role that the chemical structure plays in dictating the underlying properties of materials, leading to strategies for the rational design of new materials with improved properties. 


  • The Analytical Facility in the School of Chemistry brings Mass Spectrometry, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Chromatography, Elemental Analysis and X-Ray Diffraction/Fluorescence together under one section to provide the very highest quality of data analysis. With our excellent facilities and high level of expertise, we can offer our analytical services to other Schools cross the University and external commercial organisations.
  • The Centre for Physical Sciences of Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences (PSIBS) was set up through a prestigious EPSRC award to facilitate the training of high-quality engineering and physical sciences graduate students in a multi-disciplinary environment at the Life Sciences Interface. The focus of PSIBS research is on the development of imaging techniques and the computational analysis of image data to enable and support future breakthroughs in biology and biomedicine.