Prof. Andrew Livingston

Plenary Speaker

Research interests

I am passionate about creating novel technology platforms for manufacturing chemicals and (bio)pharmaceuticals, and recently we have focussed on macromolecular pharmaceuticals such as oligonucleotides, peptides and complex molecules involviong polymers with exactly defined monomer sequences.

Many of the concepts the LivingstonLab work with are based on membrane separations, which is our core expertise. Often it is the intersection between the way chemists or biologists currently do something, with our own innovations in membrane technology, that leads to the most interesting ideas and projects.

We work on the discovery and fabrication of new membrane materials and designs, and I really enjoy working with my team to apply these new membranes in fresh areas where major separations challenges call. That often means my Post-Docs and PhD students have to learn completely new techniques!

All research projects involve a combination of experimental and theoretical analysis, working with fundamental phenomena and their implications for specific systems.

In the last decade we have been working extensively on the use of membrane separations in solvent systems, where they are able to provide new routes to catalyst recycle, product separation, precision polymer synthesis, and solvent operations. The team works on membrane formation, fundamentals of membrane transport and solvent/membrane/solute interactions, applications to specific organic transformations, right through to the performance of scaled-up module designs and performance prediction for process plants. We work on formation of polymeric membranes, design, fabrication and testing of membrane elements, and modelling and understanding membrane transport and membrane processes.

We carry out chemical reactions when we are studying synthesis, and work on making ever more precise polymers. This area is particularly interesting since 2018 when I was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant “Exactymer” to explore the production of defined monomer sequence polymers – that is, polymeric molecules where the order of the monomers is exactly controlled – by Nanostar Sieving, a platform developed in Livingston Group. In 2018 a team of current and former members of Livingston Group founded a start-up, Exactmer Limited, to further commercialise and expand on the results of this work. We are engaged with seeking new manufacturing routes to biopolymers including oligonucelotides and peptides and exact synthetic polymers, including PEGs for PEGylation and ADC linkers.

We also work with partners on using membranes to reduce the carbon footprint of liquid fuels.

Brief biography

Andrew Livingston (AGL) is from Taranaki NZ, and studied Chemical Engineering at University of Canterbury. He then worked at an NZ food processing company followed by a PhD at Cambridge UK, and in 1990 joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College, serving as HoD 2008-2016. He leads a research group of 20 PhD students and Post-Docs, with interests in membranes for molecular separations in liquids and the development of chemical processes using these membranes. Awards include the Junior Moulton Medal, Cremer and Warner Medal, and Underwood Medal of IChemE, Silver Medal of Royal Academy of Engineering, and Imperial College Research Excellence Medal. AGL was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2006 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2022.

From October 2016 he was the inaugural Director of the Barrer Centre at Imperial College, and from 1 July 2017 was the interim academic lead, from 1 Jan 2019- May 2019 the interim director, of the new Rosalind Franklin Institute, set up with a £100M investment from the UK Government to carry out ground-breaking research at the interface of engineering, physical sciences and life sciences. In 1 November 2019 he joined Queen Mary University of London as the Vice Principal, Research and Innovation.

In 1996, AGL founded Membrane Extraction Technology, a spin-out company which evolved to manufacture solvent stable Organic Solvent Nanofiltration (OSN) membranes for molecular separations in organic liquids. On 1 March 2010 MET was acquired by Evonik Industries of Essen, Germany, and continues in business as Evonik MET Ltd., a part of the Evonik Fibres and Membranes Business. In 2018 with colleague Dr Piers Gaffney AGL founded Exactmer Limited, based in Dagenham East, London and dedicated to the production of exact polymer molecules including oligonucleotides, peptides and synthetic polymers such as PEG, using Nanostar Sieving technology. Exactmer produces OSN membranes at commercial scale for use in the the Nanostar Sieving process.