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Gamlen Tablet Press inventor gifts equipment to pharmacy students

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Published on 19 October 2023

Dr Michael Gamlen (right) with Dr Adrian Moore, Head of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Sunderland
Dr Michael Gamlen (right) with Dr Adrian Moore, Head of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Sunderland

Pharmacy students at the University of Sunderland are now benefitting from a new tablet press machine thanks to former student and inventor of the Gamlen Tablet Press, Doctor Michael Gamlen.

Dr Gamlen, who studied Pharmacy at the University from 1973-76, returned to City Campus this week (Monday 16 October) alongside his wife Alice Noon, to gift one of his tablet press machines to students at the School of Pharmacy.

The tablet press – or powder compaction analyser – is on loan to the University for five years.

Explaining more about the machine and how students will benefit, Dr Gamlen said: “It allows you to make tablets under tightly controlled conditions and enables you to make accurate comparisons between different materials and processes. The students will be able to easily see the impact of the tablet compaction conditions on tablet properties. This is very important to understand when developing new tablet formulations and manufacturing products.

“The instrument is already used by many leading universities including Imperial College London, Rutgers University, MIT and Copenhagen university and I wanted to make it available to the students at my academic birthplace in Sunderland.”

Dr Gamlen added: “I was impressed by the University’s new facilities during my recent visit. To see modern labs and lecture theatres was very refreshing and I am sure it all provides a great learning experience for the students.

“I very much enjoyed my time in Sunderland and it’s great to be able to give something back.”  

During his studies, Dr Gamlen specialised in Pharmaceutical Engineering and worked on project involving tablet granulation and compaction – and as a result, has been studying tableting ever since.

After completing his pharmacy pre-registration training with Boots, Dr Gamlen studied for a PhD at Nottingham University and went on to become the Head of Oral Solids Development at the Wellcome Foundation in Dartford, Kent, from 1981 until the company was taken over by Glaxo in 1996.

In 2011, Dr Gamlen founded his own company – Gamlen Tableting Limited – and created the world’s first computer-controlled benchtop tablet press, which would lead to the conception of the Gamlen Powder Compaction Analyser; a groundbreaking instrument for the study of the entire compaction process of powdered materials.

Dr Gamlen’s tablet press addresses the difficulty of making tablets on a lab scale and under controlled conditions as well as provide a unique insight into the compaction properties of materials. It can be used in pharmaceutical studies as well as metallurgy and 3D printing.

The system has been taken on by Fette Compacting – the international market leader in the area of tablet presses in the pharmaceutical industry. It has also been adopted by many major companies, including Pfizer, GSK, Novartis and Novo Nordisk.

Dr Paul Carter, practising Community Pharmacist and Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University, said: “Our School of Pharmacy has a very strong alumni association, and we are very grateful to Dr Gamlen for providing education and research opportunities for both undergraduates and postgraduate students. Our continued relationship means both staff and students are benefiting greatly from Dr Gamlen’s considerable experience and skills.

“We are always open to strengthening links with are alumni members and this is a great example of how the alumni network is able to support and help us progress in our teaching and research.”