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Department of Chemistry

Portrait of mjg32

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.


A class of N–O type oxidants to access high-valent palladium species
M Nappi, MJ Gaunt
– Organometallics
Mechanistic investigation into the C(sp3)–H acetoxylation of morpholinones
CS Buettner, D Willcox, BGN Chappell, MJ Gaunt
– Chemical science
A protein functionalization platform based on selective reactions at methionine residues.
MT Taylor, JE Nelson, MG Suero, MJ Gaunt
– Nature
Multicomponent synthesis of tertiary alkylamines by photocatalytic olefin-hydroaminoalkylation.
A Trowbridge, D Reich, MJ Gaunt
– Nature
Selective Reductive Elimination at Alkyl Palladium(IV) by Dissociative Ligand Ionization: Catalytic C(sp
M Nappi, C He, WG Whitehurst, BGN Chappell, MJ Gaunt
– Angewandte Chemie International Edition
Diastereoselective C–H carbonylative annulation of aliphatic amines: a rapid route to functionalized γ-lactams
ZM Png, JR Cabrera-Pardo, J Peiró Cadahía, MJ Gaunt
– Chem Sci
Enantioselective Copper-Catalyzed Arylation-driven Semi-Pinacol Rearrangement of Allylic Alcohols with Diaryliodonium Salts
DH Lukamto, MJ Gaunt
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
Enantioselective Copper-Catalyzed Arylation-Driven Semipinacol Rearrangement of Tertiary Allylic Alcohols with Diaryliodonium Salts.
DH Lukamto, MJ Gaunt
– J Am Chem Soc
Correction to "Palladium-Catalyzed Enantioselective C-H Activation of Aliphatic Amines Using Chiral Anionic BINOL-Phosphoric Acid Ligands".
AP Smalley, JD Cuthbertson, MJ Gaunt
– J Am Chem Soc
Nickel steps towards selectivity
M Gaunt, P Williamson
– Nature
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01223 336318

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