18th July 2017

Pharmacy Trip to Brighton University July 2017

Twelve first-year chemistry students from BHASVIC took part in undergraduate pharmacy practical work at Brighton University’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences. The day was kindly hosted by Dr Matt Ingram (Principal Lecturer in Pharmacy), Mr John Stephens (Principal Technician) and Dr. Angela Quadir (Senior Technician) and all the students were able to see links and further applications of a number of A level topics already covered in the first year.

We extracted solid caffeine from teabags as an example of sourcing natural pharmaceutical products from plants. The techniques we used follow on from similar simplified techniques employed in organic synthesis taught in the A level chemistry course. Experience of using these techniques will stand the students in good stead for University applications to chemistry related courses at degree level. More advanced techniques included the use of a rotary evaporator and concurrent extractions using dichloromethane.

The students coped admirably on their own (as opposed to in pairs or groups) which showed the resilience and independence required for undergraduate practical research. All students were able to isolate around 0.2-0.5g of pure caffeine – enough for further spectroscopic analysis which we carried out after lunch, with students running infrared and UV-visible spectra on their caffeine samples. They were able to identify peaks on their IR spectra around 1650cm-1  for the C=O functional group present in the caffeine molecule (below left) as well as the (approx.) 273nm “lambda-max” or λ-value for their UV spectra.

The students were then able to visit briefly the NMR spectrometer which created quite a buzz considering we had only just finished several weeks of teaching the theory and application of hydrogen NMR spectroscopy. Below are some pictures of the students in action!