Connect NMR UK – The academic and industrial UK NMR communities clearly stated the need to build a national platform to increase knowledge exchange and to maximise the value and impact of the UK NMR infrastructure into the broader communities. With this purpose in mind, the community-led Connect NMR UK network was funded by EPSRC, BBSRC and MRC.
The network will integrate the three main existing interdisciplinary communities (UK solid-state NMR; liquid-state, biological NMR; UK NMR managers group) and two learned societies (Royal Society of Chemistry NMR Discussion Group; Institute of Physics Magnetic Resonance Group). Its main objectives are: i– expanding awareness of and facilitating access to the NMR infrastructures available in the UK; ii– increasing and sharing knowledge and best practice; iii– supporting discussion and exchange of information with researchers who are not NMR experts but who can benefit from the network.
NMR – Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy allows access to the structure and dynamics from simple small molecules to more complex systems, thus substantially contributing to important discoveries in a wide range of fields, including pharmaceutical, catalysis and energy applications; its versatility makes it of paramount importance within both academic and industrial settings.
Connect NMR UK aims to bring these techniques to the wider scientific community to maximise the benefit of NMR spectroscopy to UK science.
Ultra-high field NMR funding – The UK has a long-standing track record of excellence in NMR, and over the years universities, research councils and medical charities have made significant investments to provide NMR facilities and expertise for their stakeholders.
In 2018, the physical and life sciences NMR communities identified the needs for investment in NMR at all levels of the UK NMR landscape. As a result, a budget of £20 M for capital expenditures on very-high and ultra-high field NMR equipment was allocated: the EPSRC-led call resulted in investments in two new ultra-high field 1 GHz NMR spectrometers (solid-state NMR at Warwick and liquid-state NMR at Birmingham), together with upgrades of six very- and ultra-high field (700-950 MHz) NMR spectrometers based in Edinburgh, Leicester, Liverpool, Nottingham, Oxford and Sheffield.
This consistent investment has contributed to emphasising the UK position in the worldwide NMR landscape and Connect NMR UK explicitly aims to maximise the value of this investment.
Networks and partnerships – Over the years, several regional partnerships involving different NMR facilities in the UK have been created to facilitate sharing of expertise and knowledge. As an example, the ResoN8 project from 8 research-intensive universities in the North of England gathers together Biological NMR users and supports training courses for biomolecular NMR. The SES (Science and Engineering South) and the GW4 (Great West 4) consortia constitute outstanding examples of hubs of research-intensive universities, in which NMR spectroscopy plays an important role together with other cutting-edge technologies. In Scotland, SNUG (Scottish NMR Users Group) aims at promoting the use of NMR in Scottish universities, industries, high schools and government bodies, and provides support to maintain well equipped NMR labs.
The activity of these groups is strongly contributing to highlighting the impact of NMR across disciplines and in strengthening the sharing of best practice. Connect NMR UK builds on these partnerships and those of several other organisations (Royal Society of Chemistry NMR Discussion Group, CCPN macromolecular NMR network, UKMRM NMR managers group, etc) in order to create a cohesive NMR community throughout the UK.
Prof. Frédéric Blanc, expert in solid-state NMR spectroscopy and dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) across materials chemistry
Prof. Craig Butts, expert in solution NMR spectroscopy applied in conformational and stereochemical studies of organic molecules
Prof. Christina Redfield, expert in solution NMR spectroscopy applied in the study of proteins structure, function, folding and dynamics