NEW levels of collaboration between researchers in food science, pharmacy and chemistry have been pioneered at the University of Huddersfield. The three-man team of scientists behind the development have launched a conference that is set to become a regular event around the UK, and have co-edited a special edition of the key academic journal in their field.
Dr Alan Smith, who specialises in pharmaceutics, Dr Vassilis Kontogiorgos, who is a food scientist, and Dr Gordon Morris, an analytical chemist, are working in different areas but have a shared interest in hydrocolloids - naturally-obtained polymers that have many uses in both foodstuffs and drugs.
The three men - who are members of the Carbohydrate Research Group based at the University - decided that there was immense potential for an academic conference that would bridge the divide between food and pharmacy researchers, leading to a valuable cross-fertilisation of ideas between the scientific disciplines.
So they organised the 1st UK Hydrocolloids Symposium, which took place at the University of Huddersfield in September 2013. It proved to be a big success, attracting almost 80 researchers from Britain and overseas. A sequence of papers, keynote lectures and poster presentations dealt with new developments in the fields of food and pharmaceutical science.
Now it has been announced that a second UK Hydrocolloids Symposium will take place, in September 2015, hosted by the University of Birmingham, which has taken the baton from Huddersfield, although it is likely that the event will come "home" at some point in the future.
"The idea behind the symposium has gained a lot of momentum," said Dr Morris. "We thought it would be a nice idea if, instead of it just being at Huddersfield every two years, we sent it round to different parts of the country."
Pharmacy, food and chemistry
Newly published is a special edition of the journal Food Hydrocolloids, edited by Dr Morris, Dr Smith and Dr Kontogiorgos. They invited many of the contributors to the symposium to submit articles dealing with their research and - after a rigorous review process - ten articles were accepted for the edition, which has been titled Bridging the Divide between Food and Pharma. Contents of the issue include articles co-written by University of Huddersfield researchers, such as Okra extracts in pharmaceutical and food applications.
The three originators of the Hydrocolloids Symposium are delighted by the success of the event and the prestige of the special Food Hydrocolloids edition. The University of Huddersfield is one of very few in the UK where close and fruitful links have been formed by researchers in the fields of pharmacy, food and fundamental chemistry.
"We share an interest in the same materials, but we come at it from different angles," said Dr Smith. "We see the benefits and uses of hydrocolloids by understanding first their structure and their chemistry and then understanding how they might be useful in the real world, for example by designing drug delivery systems or micro-structures for food."
To view the special edition of Food Hydrocolloids go to: http://www.