N-Heterocyclic Carbene (NHC) catalysis has emerged as a powerful method for the construction of construct complex and biologically active molecules. Work in our group involves the use of NHCs as substoichmetric Lewis and Brønsted bases for the discovery of new reactions. These catalysts have allowed us to access catalytically generated homoenolates, acyl anions, acylvinyl anions, and enolates for the assembly of carbo- and heterocyclic compounds.
Recent work in our group has focused on further advancement in this field of organocatalysis by examining a NHC/Lewis acid cooperative catalysis system, NHC dual activation, and the employment of our NHC methodology in target synthesis. Our research group seeks to leverage knowldge aquired in reaction development towards the synthesis of small molecules relevant to cancer biology and pyschopharmacology to drive the development of new therapeutics.
In recent years, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) have emerged as privileged materials for catalysis, gas storage, and gas separation due to their reusability, permanent micorporosity, and high internal surface area. Seeking to further our program using hydrogen bond donor catalysts, we are currently pursuing novel MOF architectures which incorporate classic H-bond donor moieties into metal binding struts. By incorporating organocatalysts into ordered heterogeneous materials, we should limit unwanted side reactions, render the catalysts reusable, and, most notably, enhance reaction rates to compete with homogeneous catalysts. We have synthesized a number of new architectures which display exciting new reactivity, allowing us to push the boundaries of which heterogeneous H-bond donor catalysts are capable.