Aston University receives £10m for membrane institute

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Aston University to create the Aston Institute for Membrane Excellence

Aston University is on course to create the Aston Institute for Membrane Excellence (AIME) – a cross-disciplinary facility to develop novel biomimetic membranes – having received £10m from Research England.

The institute will be led by Professor Roslyn Bill, from the School of Biosciences, along with Professor Paul Topham from the department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry.

Both biological and synthetic membranes are significant across several many sectors. Indeed, the world’s top ten selling human medicines all target proteins in biological membranes, while synthetic polymer membranes are commonly used in the water purification industry.

The AIME believes that the full potential of membranes will only be realised by an interdisciplinary group which spans biology, physics and chemistry and that can investigate membranes holistically.

Professor Bill, a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced grantee leads Aston Membrane Proteins and Lipids (AMPL) research centre of excellence that studies the structure and function of membrane proteins and associated lipids.

Meanwhile, Professor Topham heads Aston Polymer Research Group (APRG), which studies the nanoscale behaviour of block copolymers and polymer technologies for membranes.

AMPL and APRG have already begun collaborative research and AIME will bring together the expertise of both research clusters into a single institute.

Professor Bill explained: “The creation of AIME is ground-breaking. Together with Aston’s investment, E3 funding will deliver a step-change in scale and the rate at which we can grow capacity.”

He added: “We will address intractable scientific challenges in health, disease, and biotechnology, combining our world-class expertise in polymer chemistry and membrane biology to study membranes holistically. The excellence of our science, alongside recent growth in collaborative successes means we have a unique opportunity to deliver AIME’s ambitious and inclusive vision.”

Professor Topham reflected: “We are really excited by this fantastic opportunity to work more closely with our expert colleagues in Biosciences to create advanced technology to address real world problems.

“From our side, we are interested in molecular engineering, where we control the molecular structure of new materials to manipulate their properties to do the things that we want! Moreover, we are passionate about a fully sustainable future for our planet, and this investment will enable us to develop technological solutions in a sustainable or ‘green’ way.”

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