Themes & Projects
Themes and Projects
“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." -- Charles Mingus (American jazz musician, 1922-1979)
"..... to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody has thought." -- Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine)
Two underlying themes of our research are: small and simple. We make small molecules using simple processes. The 'small' focus of our research program is derived from the simple observation that most classes of important biological molecules – amino acids, nucleic acids, carbohydrates – are small molecules that contain functional groups uniquely and densely juxtaposed. Undoubtedly, this structural – regiochemical – feature of natural products is highly correlated to several important emergent molecular properties: (a) complexity, (b) diversity, (c) multivalency, (d) biochemical networks, and (e) ‘higher order’ biological functionality, that is, life as we know it.
Our research program involves novel juxtapositioning of organic functional groups in small molecules and investigation of their unique chemical, physical and biological properties. Functional groups are our molecular ‘playsets’ and their emergent properties, when juxtaposed, define our ‘rules of engagement.’
The second theme - simplicity - defines our approach to making small molecules. A simple synthesis is reliable, efficient, scalable and cheap. Consequently, addition and rearrangement organic reactions are 'higher order tools' for small molecule synthesis.
Our fusion of 'small and simple' has led to new compounds, functional materials, synthetic processes and applications ranging from molecular sensing to hybrid biologics. This approach also facilitates and seamlessly integrates with our early research participation (ERP) initiatives.
Specific Research Projects
Some specific ongoing research projects that illustrate the scope of this approach involves, but is not limited to:
(a) Electrophilic Carbonyl Additions,
(b) Chemistry of Novel alpha-Functionalized Acylals including Hybrid Acylal Drugs,
(c) Synthesis, Spectroscopy and Applications of Novel Hybrid Phenylpropanoids (e.g. flavonoids, stilbenoids, coumarins),
(d) Design and Development of Multimodal Molecular Sensors,
(e) Development of Novel Oxidative Cyclizations,
(f) Design, Synthesis and Applications of Multiphasic Surfactants,
(g) Application of Solid Bases in Organic Synthesis, Polymer Synthesis and Biomass Conversion, and
(h) Design, Synthesis and Applications of Novel Multicationic Dyes.