Professor Corey Stephenson and his group have received a 5-year, $1.7 million award from the National Institutes of Health (NIGMS) to develop novel catalytic approaches to the synthesis of alkaloid natural products. These visible light-mediated methods provide innovative avenues toward challenging molecular architectures with broad biological activity.
The Stephenson Group focuses on performing syntheses in an environmentally conscious way. By using visible light, they prepare waste-free, non-toxic “reagent” complex natural products. Since most organic molecules do not absorb visible light, they can use photosensitive catalysts (widely studied for their photophysical properties) to carry out transformations under mild conditions in the presence of otherwise reactive functional groups. These new chemical reactions will enable the synthesis of biologically active natural products implicated in cancer, infection, and cardiovascular disease.
This award will reinforce our Life Science research infrastructure on the Charles River Campus by renovating space on the 4th floor in the East Wing of the Metcalf Science and Engineering Center Department of Chemistry space. Started in April, 2010, the one-year effort will renovate 6,700 square feet of laboratory and office space to create four laboratory modules for state-of-the-art research in synthetic organic chemistry and supporting laboratory space for analytical chemistry. The flexible laboratory layout will enable technology-facilitated medicinal chemistry. Complementary faculty and meeting space will be developed to fully support real and virtual conferencing that facilitates engagement and collaboration among research scientists on the Charles River and Medical campuses as well as sites outside of BU. These renovations of four research laboratories will provide the infrastructure for the chemical sciences to realize BU’s biomedical research vision, which has been constrained by outdated and inflexible infrastructure available in the Metcalf Center for Science and Engineering (renovated in 1983). It will bolster BU’s leadership position in translational science by providing a robust environment for multidisciplinary research efforts bridging chemistry and biology. This NIH facilities renovation award is the first federally funded renovation grant on the Charles River Campus in BU’s history.
The objective of the publication, Organic Syntheses, Inc., is to sponsor highly talented and innovative research seminars in organic chemistry. The first of these lectures at Boston University will be on April 13 and will be given by Professor Tehshik Yoon, University of Wisconsin at Madison. Prof. Yoon is investigating how transition metal catalysts modulate the reactivity of oxaziridines in a variety of oxidation reactions, as well as looking at reactions that do not lead to an overall change in the oxidation state of the substrate but which are initiated by one-electron redox processes. His talk will be entitled “New Strategies for Redox Catalysis in Organic Synthesis.”
Karen Allen, a distinguished research scientist in biochemistry and structural biology has joined the Department of Chemistry. Most recently on the faculty of the Boston University Medical School, she has made seminal contributions to the understanding of protein structure and function through X-ray diffraction and chemical kinetic studies.
Professor Allen’s training spans the fields of biology (B.S. in Biology, Tufts University), biochemistry (Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Brandeis University), and protein structure determination (Postdoctoral Fellow with Greg Petsko, MIT). Hallmarks of her research are the ability to select protein targets of fundamental biological significance; carry out mechanistic enzymological studies that characterize a protein’s function; and through X-ray crystallographic investigations, elucidate the role of the protein’s structure in determining its function. Professor Allen extends her structural and functional analysis across families and superfamilies of proteins, providing insights into protein evolution that often reveal surprising links between proteins that are structurally similar but functionally disparate or vice versa.
In her pursuit of insights that come from interdisciplinary research, Professor Allen collaborates both within the Department of Chemistry (with Professors Liu and Whitty), as well as with other departments such as Biology (Professor Dean Tolan) and Biomedical Engineering (Professor Sandor Vajda). She is a member of Boston University’s Cell and Molecular Biology (CMBB) Program and the Bioinformatics Graduate Programs.
Professor Allen is a leader of the American Chemical Society, where she has served as Program Chair for the Biological Chemistry Division and is currently an Associate Editor of its prestigious journal, Biochemistry.
To learn more about the work of Professor Allen and her group, please click here.
Prof. Whitty received his undergraduate degree (B.Sc., Hon.) in Chemistry at King’s College, University of London in 1985, and his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1991 working with Professor Paul Young. Following postdoctoral research with Professor William P. Jencks at Brandeis University in the field of Enzymology, Adrian joined Biogen Inc. (now Biogen Idec) in Cambridge, MA as staff scientist, where over 14 years he rose to the position of Director in the Drug Discovery Department and Head of Physical Biochemistry. In these roles he led a large group of research scientists employing structural biology, biochemistry, biophysics and computational approaches to investigate the mechanisms of action of potential drug targets and drug candidates, including both ‘biopharmaceutical’ (i.e. protein) and ‘small molecule’ (i.e. synthetic organic) drug discovery projects. Adrian additionally led or co-led project teams aimed at discovering drugs against specific drug targets. In his time at Biogen Idec Adrian was a highly productive research scientist with an excellent record of scientific publications. At the same time he engaged in impressive and focused mentoring of post-doctoral scholars. For several years he served as Director of the Biogen Idec Postdoctoral Program, and was cited by Science as one of the top postdoctoral mentors in the country (“Success factors for Postdocs,” September 17, 2004).
The Departments of Chemistry and Physics are sponsoring the installation of an art piece, “The Evolution of Darwin,” by artist Esther Solondz.
Between November 2006 and April 2007, Solondz, who is on the faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design, is creating “rust portraits” of Charles Darwin and other evolutionary scientists on the concrete bench risers of Metcalf Plaza (590 Commonwealth Ave).
Solondz has been working for several years with a variety of ordinary materials such as salt, water, and rust to create her art. Combined, these materials change and grow in conformance to the conditions of a given piece. In the “Evolution of Darwin” installation, she renders the images using iron filings sandwiched between two pieces of cotton gauze and placed on concrete elements of outdoor spaces. On top of each image she puts a sculpture made of compressed salt bricks that are in various states of crystallization, growth, and dissolution. Over time the salt will dissolve and the filings will rust and leave an image. How long will the transformation take? That depends on the weather and how long it takes to break down the salt. Salt that covers the iron filings changes form, some of it building up and obscuring the images, some of it dissolving and vanishing.
Chemistry faculty member, John Straub, has worked as Solondz’s “chemistry consultant” to understand the chemistry of her process, a true art-science connection.
To view the website associated with the installation go to: http://www.bu.edu/darwin/
The Chemistry Department is pleased to announce that Nobel Laureate Dr. Robert Grubbs, Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, will be giving this year’s Lambert lecture.
The Lambert Lecture is supported by an endowment established by alumnus Benjamin Lambert , who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Boston University (CAS ‘55). After graduating from law school, he went on to pursue a distinguished career as a patent attorney with such major pharmaceutical companies as Merck and Johnhson & Johnson. Each year, the Lambert Lecture addresses different topics in organic chemistry, the field of Lambert’s undergraduate and graduate studies, and features some of the most distinguished and creative scientists working in the field of organic chemistry today.
The Chemistry Department is please to announce our receipt of an NSF REU site award. The Chemistry Research Addressing Biological Problems program gives undergraduates the opportunity to conduct research in basic chemical science projects that address fundamental questions in biological systems. The program is offered by the Department of Chemistry at Boston University and is one of the sites supported by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU). The Department of Chemistry has an outstanding, internationally known faculty and exceptional, modern facilities. It is located in the heart Boston, one of the world’s leading research areas.
It is with great pleasure that the Department of Chemistry welcomes three new Assistant Professors to our faculty.
Professor Doerrer is a synthetic inorganic chemist. She received her Ph.D. in 1996 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working with Professor Stephen Lippard. She was appointed a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow from 1996 to 1997 in the laboratory of Malcolm Green at Oxford University, followed by a Junior Research Fellowship with him from 1997 to 1999. Linda joined the faculty of Barnard College in 1999 and developed a research program that earned her awards from the National Science Foundation, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, the Petroleum Research Fund, among others. In 2002 Barnard recognized her teaching excellence by giving her the Emily Gregory Award for Excellence in Teaching and Service. Linda’s current research interests include synthetic inorganic and organometallic solution phase molecules; perfluorinated aryl rings in weakly coordinated anions, and metallophilic interactions with precious metal double salts.
Professor Xia is joint faculty member in the Boston University Bioinformatics Program and the Department of Chemistry. He received his Ph.D. in 2003 from Stanford University, working with Professor Michael Levitt. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University from 2003-2006 with Professor Mark Gerstein. He has been awarded fellowships from both the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research (2004-2006) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (1996-2001). Brandon’s research interest is the application of computational techniques to study the structure, function, and evolution of complex bio-molecular systems, such as proteins and protein networks. Specific projects include: reconstruction of protein interaction and regulatory networks by genomic data integration; comparative and evolutionary analysis of proteins and protein networks; protein sequence-structure-function relationships; prediction of protein structure and function,
Professor Reinhard is a physical chemist. He received his Ph.D. in 2004 from the Technische Universität Kaiserslautern working with Professor Gereon Niedner-Schatteburg. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow from 2004-2006 with Professor Jan Liphardt at UC, Berkeley. He is a recipient of the Juan de la Cierva Award (2006) and a DFG Research Scholarship (2005). Björn’s interests are the design, implementation, and characterization of new tools for imaging and manipulation of “hard” (inorganic) and “soft” (biological) materials. One of his aims is to produce hybrid materials that combine interesting electronic/optical properties of inorganic materials with the structural properties of biological materials. He is currently also developing new probes and sensing schemes to characterize the function and dynamics of individual biological molecules and complexes. The ultimate goal of these studies is to generate reliable tools that can grant insight into fundamental biological processes on a single molecule level.
It is with great pleasure that the Department of Chemistry welcomes two new members to its faculty, Professor Pinghua Liu in biochemistry and Professor Feng Wang in theoretical and computational chemistry.
Professor Liu received his Ph.D. in 2001 from the University of Minnesota. Most recently, he was a postdoctoral associate in the laboratory of Professor JoAnne Stubbe at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His laboratory is interested in mechanistic studies of metallo-protein catalyzed processes (with emphasis on radical involving reactions) and their roles in signal transductions. His initial projects are directed at studying proteins involved in isoprenoid biosynthesis and chromatin structural modulations.
Professor Wang received his Ph.D. in 2003 from the University of Pittsburgh after which he became a postdoctoral associate in the laboratory of Professor Gregory Voth at the University of Utah. His group is interested in multi-scale Monte Carlo or molecular dynamics study of large systems at finite temperature using high accuracy force fields. He is also interested in systematic development of such force fields using a revised version of the force-matching procedure. Problems of particular interest include ligand docking, mechanical properties of metal alloys and properties of methane clathrates at different temperature and pressure.