April 20, 2011

Organic chemistry leaders to speak at Emerson Center symposium

Purdue University's Ei-ichi Negishi, a 2010 Nobel Laureate in chemistry, is the keynote speaker for the Emerson Center Lectureship Award Symposium on Wednesday, April 27.

The day-long event, titled "Revolutionizing Strategies for Carbon-Carbon and Carbon-Heteroatom Bond Formation: Interplay of Theory and Experiment," begins at 9 a.m. in Harland Cinema.

See the full schedule.

Work by Negishi and others during the early 1980s led to the development of critically important carbon-carbon (C-C) bond formation reactions that had a major impact on organic synthesis, including the development of new drug candidates.

Emory chemists are now working on a promising next-generation strategy for organic synthesis: Stereoselective carbon-hydrogen (C-H) functionalization. Huw Davies, director of an NSF Center for Chemical Innovation at Emory, will be speaking on the topic during the symposium.

Carbon-carbon and carbon-hydrogen bonds are generally the strongest bonds of an organic chemical, providing a stable framework for a molecule. For decades, the main strategy of organic chemistry was to leave these stable bonds alone and focus on modifying more reactive bonds.

"C-H functionalization involves a paradigm shift," Davies says. "We're trying to modify the C-H bonds, while leaving alone the reactive groups. It can be tricky, but it has the possibility of giving you more flexibility for the type of structures you can access."

Other leading chemists speaking at the symposium include Lanny Liebeskind of Emory, Christopher Joes of Georgia Tech and Peter Zhang of the University of South Florida.

The Emerson Center for Scientific Computation drives the development of cutting-edge, interdisciplinary projects at Emory, including the Center for Chemical Innovation. The annual Emerson Center Lectureship brings together leading scholars from Emory and beyond, to further promote collaboration among disciplines and computational sciences.

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