Research

My research group is very much interested in molecular structure, and in particular we draw significant inspiration from the structures of complex naturally occurring molecules. For us, these fascinating compounds define one of the grand challenges for modern synthetic chemistry: The synthesis and development of new therapeutic agents for the treatment of human disease.  Addressing this grand challenge through the continued invention of new chemical reactions that we apply to the concise synthesis of biologically active molecules is at the heart of the research endeavors within my group.

A selection of the natural products we have synthesized, along with some molecules of current focus, is given below.  These compounds are representative of the diverse structures that serve as our inspiration, both in terms of biological collaborations but also in terms of reaction development. With each target we seek to answer important chemical questions in terms of reactivity, structure and synthetic strategy.

The groups interests in naturally occurring molecules extends beyond just total synthesis and reaction development. Recently, we have initiated a joint endeavor with the Kelleher Lab that combines synthetic chemistry, proteomics, molecular biology and microbiology in order to facilitate the discovery of new biologically active natural products.  In a joint project with the Geiger Lab, we are investigating the impact of volatile terpene natural products in the formation of secondary organic aerosol particles, which are important species in climate regulation.  These two new exciting research areas merge the power of synthetic chemistry with the most advanced forms of mass spectrometry, biochemistry and laser spectroscopy, and offer real potential for cross-cutting scientific discoveries.