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Department of Chemistry

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New Catalytic Strategies for Chemical Synthesis

Despite the changing face of chemistry, the importance of synthesis - the ability to generate molecules in a controlled fashion - has not diminished. However, the increasingly complex synthetic problems being posed by nature, medicine and materials demand new reactivity concepts and strategies in order to meet these challenges.

Our group is interested in the development of new catalytic strategies for chemical synthesis that engage novel reactivity concepts to enable the rapid generation of architecturally complex molecules and natural products. One of our key aims is to be able to construct natural products from simple building blocks in a single step, without the need for reactivity inducing functional groups and with the ability to control the stereochemistry.

In this way, we hope to be able to develop a chemo-catalytic equivalent to Nature's biosynthetic machinery that will enable us to build any molecule we want. Our approach to this is focussed on three main research programmes:

(A) metal catalyzed C-H bond functionalization,

(B) catalytic asymmetric synthesis using small molecule organic catalysts,

(C) cascade strategies for natural product synthesis.

In addition to this, many of the molecules that we are able to synthesise have interesting biological properties, and so we are also able to develop chemical biology applications from our synthetic chemistry projects.


Synthesis and Reactivity of Stable Alkyl-Pd(IV) Complexes Relevant to Monodentate N-Directed C(sp3)–H Functionalization Processes
WG Whitehurst, MJ Gaunt
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
A general carbonyl alkylative amination for tertiary amine synthesis
R Kumar, NJ Flodén, WG Whitehurst, MJ Gaunt
– Nature
New Strategies for the Transition-Metal Catalyzed Synthesis of Aliphatic Amines.
A Trowbridge, SM Walton, MJ Gaunt
– Chemical Reviews
Rapid Syntheses of (-)-FR901483 and (+)-TAN1251C Enabled by Complexity-Generating Photocatalytic Olefin Hydroaminoalkylation
D Reich, A Trowbridge, MJ Gaunt
– Angewandte Chemie - International Edition
Catalytic C(sp 3)–H bond activation in tertiary alkylamines
J Rodrigalvarez, M Nappi, H Azuma, NJ Flodén, ME Burns, MJ Gaunt
– Nature Chemistry
Visible-light mediated carbonyl trifluoromethylative amination as a practical method for the synthesis of β-trifluoromethyl tertiary alkylamines
K Kolahdouzan, R Kumar, MJ Gaunt
– Chemical Science
Carboxylate-Assisted Oxidative Addition to Aminoalkyl Pd
WG Whitehurst, JH Blackwell, GN Hermann, MJ Gaunt
– Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English)
Streamlined Synthesis of C(sp(3))-Rich N-Heterospirocycles Enabled by Visible-Light-Mediated Photocatalysis
NJ Flodén, A Trowbridge, D Willcox, SM Walton, Y Kim, MJ Gaunt
– J Am Chem Soc
Palladium-Catalyzed C(sp(3))-H Bond Functionalization of Aliphatic Amines
C He, WG Whitehurst, MJ Gaunt
– Chem
Palladium(II)-Catalyzed C(sp 3 )–H Activation of N,O-Ketals towards a Method for the β-Functionalization of Ketones
DKH Ho, J Calleja, MJ Gaunt
– Synlett
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01223 336318

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