A Life’s Passion.

Over 20 years ago, John Lough arrived at the University of Sunderland in the North East from Beecham Pharmaceuticals, intent on carrying out academic research into pharmaceutical analysis. He was also rather taken by the concept of the fledgling course BSc Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science (CPS), ‘designed to provide the pharmaceutical industry with the right kind of graduates that it needs’. Having fulfilled its promise for a quarter of a century, the CPS course is no more, but John is still researching pharmaceutical analysis and striving to provide the pharmaceutical industry with the right kind of graduates to meet the emerging needs of employers.

What’s more, he is able to combine the two through the University’s strategy for research-led teaching. In fact, this integration is going so well that in recent work on legal high drugs, it was teaching that led research. With this emphasis on problem-solving there are high hopes that two new programmes will continue Sunderland’s tradition of producing highly skilled graduates, not just for the North East pharmaceutical industry, but for regions far beyond.

Interestingly, it was an initiative by ONE North East in 2009 to provide bursaries for new courses that was the catalyst for the creation of the MSc Drug Discovery and Development (www.sunderland.ac.uk/course/995/drug_discovery_and_development), of which John is the Programme Leader.

He also played an active role in the 2009-2010 review of taught undergraduate sciences programmes at Sunderland; his contribution paved the way for the subsequent development of a BSc BioPharmaceutical Science (www.sunderland.ac.uk/course/1062/biopharmaceutical_science) (BPS) course. The CPS programme set the trend for similar courses that followed in other universities. The BPS course, which welcomed its first students in September 2011, is certainly a timely introduction as pharmaceutical companies look more to large biological molecules rather than small molecules for their new therapies. Two further new programmes are set for a September 2012 introduction: MSc Biopharmaceutics and Pharmaceutics; and MSc Proteomics and Metabolomics, both of which are complimentary to the MSc Drug Discovery and Development.

These courses are all taught in our state-of-the-art £8.5m Sciences Complex, which was officially opened last year by eminent scientist Lord Robert Winston. The facility delivers research with ‘real world’ impact – research that quickly transfers from the laboratory into the public domain, be it new drugs and therapies, improved health practices or benefits to the environment.

These new courses serve the region’s pharmaceutical industry, but also have a much wider reach. The same could be said for Lough himself. He has had ongoing research collaborations with universities in India, where he has been an almost annual visitor since 1991; he has been involved in short courses and conference organisation in Brazil; and in the USA and Canada he has taught short courses, lectured at international conferences, worked on book collaborations and served as an expert witness. At a national level, his early academic research was funded by all the major UK R&D based pharmaceutical companies.

He has served on the Medicinal Compounds Expert Advisory Group of the British Pharmacopoeia since 1998; and has been on the Executive Committee of The Chromatographic Society since 1991. In the latter capacity he was Editor of The Chromatographic Society Bulletin; Chair of the 1996 International Symposium on Chiral Discrimination; Treasurer 2001-2007; and when President from 2007-2009, was instrumental in founding the new separation science magazine, Chromatography Today.

Later, Lough gained even more insight into the region’s pharmaceutical industry as he served as a co-supervisor on the part-time research degree of a colleague in the Business School on ‘The Sustainability of the North East’s Pharmaceutical Industry’.

More recently, in May 29-30, John brought the Spring Symposium of The Chromatography Society (www.chromsoc.com), ‘Separation Science in an Evolving Pharmaceutical Industry’, to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light. This was the 11th occasion John staged a Pharma-related national symposium in the North East.

John’s fifth book, ‘Drug Stereochemistry: Analytical Methods and Pharmacology’ (www.informahealthcarebooks.com/), was released in March 2012.


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