POSAT Industrial & Academic Partners


Staff from each of the private-sector partners have visited our facilities at Newcastle University to contribute to a focused 2-day seminar for the trainees annually. During this meeting, each contributor has lead a half-day workshop to develop the trainees’ commercial and entrepreneurial skills. For further details of the POSAT annual conferences, including agenda and circulated materials, click here.

These seminars have included, among others, discussions concerning:

  • Historical perspectives of company initiation and development
  • Finance and venture capital
  • Research and product development
  • Intellectual property and patent law
  • Commercialization

This programme of work has benefited from significant input from the industrial partners, who on occasion of seminars work in close collaboration with academics and leading professionals from the NHS/ NHSBT.

We have been fortunate to have state-of-the art industrial partners with relevant expertise to the remit of this project, as described below:

1. Almac (Edinburgh, UK) is a privately owned company with over 3,300 employees, has its global headquarters in Northern Ireland and extensive facilities in the UK and US. We will collaborate with the Scotland- based facility in Edinburgh, which specializes in long chain peptide synthesis. It provides a comprehensive range of chemokines in the native and site specific labelled form. Due to their high purity, endotoxin-free composition and ability to synthesize modified chemokines with substitution of amino acids, it is a preferred source for in vivo and in vitro experiments.

Our past track record of collaboration with Almac, using chemically synthesised chemokines resulted in 4 high impact publications (Ali et al., 2005; Ali et al., 2008; O'Boyle et al., 2009; Ali et al., 2010).

During the secondment the ESRs will get exposure to the functioning of the private sector and will gain experience of:

  • Chemical synthesis of peptides, including complete chemokines.
  • Synthesis of mutant chemokines, replacing amino acids involved in interaction with glycosaminoglycans with alanine.
  • Synthesis of chemokines labeled site-specifically with AlexaFluor to allow in vitro binding and internalization to endothelial cells as well as tracking in vivo.


2. Cellix (Dublin, Ireland) has developed a ground breaking microfluidics drug screening tool currently being used by over a third of the top ten pharmaceutical companies worldwide. By operating under continuous blood flow conditions, the Cellix platform simulates the human environment providing researchers with powerful data and experimental conditions far beyond that available via static conditions of the petri dish. By using this system, the translational capability of research projects is enhance and the success rate of clinical trials is improved, giving researchers in the field of Immunobiology a competitive edge.

Cellix has experience in co-supervising Marie Curie Fellows. Their role will be to help optimise the adhesion and migration experiments using their flow chamber system. This platform will be used to examine the effect of fluid shear on endothelial morphology and inflammatory responses (e.g. upregulation of adhesion molecules, cytokines etc.) Furthermore, conditions will be optimised for the optimal growth of various cells on the chip and they will help in evaluating the anti-inflammatory effect of a range of heparinoids/mutant chemokines which can displace bound chemokines (endogenously produced or exogenously added) from the endothelial cell surface. In addition they will play an active role in the supervision of the students.


3. Qiagen, Manchester, UK is the leading provider of sample and assay technologies. It employs more than 3,500 people in over 35 locations worldwide. Skelton House in Manchester represents the leading site for PCR IVD assay development and has experience surprising growth and brought significant value to the company worldwide. A large number of in-vitro diagnostics tests developed at QIAGEN are based on molecular technologies such as real time PCR. Qiagen offers a large number of CE-and FDA marked products for human diagnostic use (this includes the digene HPV test, which is regarded as a "gold standard" in testing for high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV)). Qiagen will allow fellows to pursue studies in early phase development process, quality control, expression assays, performance studies, including validity, robustness and efficacy of new IVD companion diagnostic kits.

4. Durham University, Chemistry Department. Durham University is often judged one of the top 5 UK Universities. Its Chemistry department is a thriving research centre pursuing world-class science across a range of chemical disciplines. Applicants Professor Kirby and Simi Ali already collaborate successfully with Dr S Cobb and Dr E Pohl on other projects that span the chemistry-biology interface and support from regional development funding sources has previously been secured to enable this work.

For the proposed project Durham University has served as host institution for secondments to and provided experience in techniques involved in synthetic chemistry and biophysical characterisation of protein-ligand and protein-protein interactions. They have the capacity in terms of both staff and expertise to carry out solid phase peptide synthesis (SPPS) enabling the preparation of natural and modified chemokines but also Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC) and Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) for biophysical characterisation. Fellows will be supervised on each of the instruments. In addition, the students will also have the opportunity to attend some of the postgraduate courses in their newly established MSc program in Biophysical Sciences. This will obviously be discussed in the individual career development plan of each student.