2023 Societal Impact Award Winner: Professor Jim Thomas and team
14 Feb 2024



For their work tackling the problem of antibiotic resistant superbugs, Professor Jim Thomas and his team have been awarded the 2023 CLF Societal Impact Award.

profile shot of Prof Jim Thomas outside with a countryside view behind him

​​​Prof Jim Thomas


​​CLF Societal Impact awards celebrate research that can demonstrate strong societal impact and applications. For example, the research could have resulted in, or be linked to:​

  • Improving healthcare and biomedical sciences
  • Scientific policy change
  • Environmental sustainability advances
  • An improvement in quality of life.

No new class of treatment for hard-to-treat Gram-negative bacteria has been developed in over 50 years and, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), four out of every five of the bacteria that cause the most concerning infections are Gram-negative. This, combined with growing antimicrobial resistance, raises the importance of developing new antimicrobials to fight infections.

Prof Jim Thomas (University of Sheffield) ​and his team have been users at the CLF's Octopus facility for several years, having originally been involved in designing compounds to be carried in mammalian cells for non-toxic super resolution microscopy experiments. Using their expertise and experience in using complexes for medical purposes, Professor Thomas and his team started to tweak the compounds they had previously used at Octopus to determine their antimicrobial properties. This led to a breakthrough in discovering a set of ruthenium complexes with very promising antimicrobial properties.

The team is still very involved with the group at Octopus, using the facility's suite of imaging equipment to look at the mechanism of action of the various antimicrobial complexes to aid further development. The work undertaken resulted in the formation of a spin-out company, MetalloBio, in 2021, with the mission of creating powerful antimicrobial agents for pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, and material coatings and additives.

Find out more about the CLF User Impact Awards.​

Contact: Towrie, Helen (STFC,RAL,CLF)