EPSRC RISE - Professor Lee Cronin and Dr Oren Scherman

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RISE Leader Professor Lee Cronin, University of Glasgow and Rising Star Dr Oren Scherman, University of Cambridge meet with Dave Allen, GlaxoSmithKline.

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Professor Lee Cronin - Professor of Chemistry, University of Glasgow [LC]

My name is Lee Cronin and I am Professor of Chemistry at University of Glasgow School of Chemistry and in my research I have a big team that's looking at things from artificial life to digital chemistry, to try to discover new molecules. Not only the molecules of life but also new molecules that might be used for curing disease or for new materials. One of the big things we are interested in is how we can literally take the fossil out of the fuel? How can we turn sunlight and CO2 back into fuel that we can use in our cars tomorrow and recycle and give energy security and negate climate change? The RISE scheme has paired me with Dave Allen from GSK who is head of respiratory and medicine. Dave runs a really big team in one of the most profitable areas of GSK, so talking with Dave and comparing how he runs his team and I run my team has been really interesting, for me to learn from someone who's used to managing complex environments that are fast moving and really get some emotional support and intellectual support and try and work out how to manage really smart people to work together in quite a complex environment.

Dave Allen - Head, Respiratory Therapy Area Unit, GlaxoSmithKline [DA]

I think when the EPSRC put Lee and myself together they were really trying to combine the experiences, the skills that perhaps I've learnt in industry with Lee's academic expertise, his skill, his world view of science if you like in a very specialist area. There are lots of schemes that try and drive interactions between industry and academia and I think this one is a little bit different and it's quite a personal one. It's got a personal interaction that's driven it. I'm used to leading very large teams towards very determined goals in quite a sort of predetermined way that regulatory authorities and other bodies, government bodies, require of us so hopefully I have got some skills that are complementary to Lee's, and vice versa, and we both learn some new stuff and at the same time pass on some of our skills to each other.


My Rising Star is Oren Scherman from the University of Cambridge. I've known Oren for several years now and been really impressed with the way he tackles his research. He's starting new companies and he's really diverse and having to be an entrepreneur if you like in academia. We are in slightly different areas of science, but there's a lot of commonality in being problem led, wanting to look at the big picture and then motivate our research teams to really get in and solve the problem, rather than worry about the discipline silo they find themselves in.

Dr Oren Scherman - Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge [OS]

I'm a super molecular chemist at Cambridge University and we are trying to put lots of different materials together and we are trying to get different emergent properties from them. This might be in the realm of energy, it might be in the realm of medicinal science, or it might even be wound healing or different types of packaging. It's been very fruitful to talk to each other about different ideas that we have at early stages well before they're in the research environment in our own individual labs. It gives us a chance not just to be jiving with one another, but also challenge each other in a very open and flexible manner because we both are able to trust that the science that we are doing is different enough that the comments, both positive and negative, will be helpful rather than hurtful, or maybe we are worried about one person stealing this kind of science or another.


People like Oren, brought into this scheme, should benefit both from the history and experiences that Lee and I have had working together. They get to see the picture earlier in their career, they get to make their choices in a more informed way and maybe it will stimulate them into thinking slightly differently about how they might exploit some of their work, some of the directions they may take their science in, but at the same time retaining that entrepreneurship excitement that young investigators inevitably have.