The Johnson Group recently completed an asymmetric synthesis of the squalene synthesis inhibitor zaragozic acid C. The synthesis featured an interesting controlled oligomerization cascade to establish much of the stereochemically and functionally complex core. More broadly, the work asks if the lessons of polymer synthesis can be applied in the realm of natural product synthesis through the application of tailor-made reagents with the appropriate trigger. This work was highlighted in Science and Chemical and Engineering News.
Research in the Pielak Group focuses on In-cell NMR, a new method which allows us to obtain high-resolution NMR data from proteins in living cells. Much of this work involves quantifying the effects of macromolecular crowding on protein chemistry. Additionally, we study the oxidative aggregation of the key protein involved in Parkinson's disease, &alpha-synuclein.
Margaret Radack, an undergraduate chemistry major in the You Group, has been selected to receive the Gertrude Elion Undergraduate Scholarship Award by the North Carolina section of the American Chemical Society. The award is in memory of Gertrude B. Elion, 1988 Nobel Laureate in Medicine, and honors her interest in fostering the research careers of students, and particularly women.
Margaret, who will begin her senior year this fall, is currently doing her summer research program in the You Group, focusing on the development of new strategies to increase the light absorption width of conjugated polymers. Such polymers can more effectively harvest the solar spectrum, with a great potential to increase the current of these polymers based solar cells. Congratulations, Maggie!
Work entirely designed, implemented, and interpreted by UNC undergraduates has been published in Biochemistry and is highlighted on the journal web page. Many viruses encode their genetic information in RNA molecules and these RNAs can have complex structures that are essential for efficient replication. The all-undergraduate team developed a model for the genome of the satellite tobacco mosaic virus, which is roughly the "hydrogen atom" of RNA viruses.
The UNC undergraduates discovered that the RNA genome has a complex higher-order structure with three domains, each of which corresponds to an essential viral function. This work is likely to broadly inform our understanding of the role of genome structure in the infectivity and pathogenesis of many RNA viruses, including those that infect humans.
The work was carried out as part of the UNC Undergraduate Transcriptome Project, an NSF-funded program developed in the Weeks Laboratory, designed to help undergraduates explore their potential for independent creativity, to fuel their passion for science, and to be a model for engaging undergraduates in a research university.
The UNC Office of Technology Development has selected Carolina Chemistry Professor Maurice Brookhart as this year's recipient of their Inventor of the Year Award. This award recognizes not only Dr. Brookhart's numerous inventions and patents, but also his commitment to the university's mission of encouraging innovation and disseminating knowledge.
The award will be formally presented at the OTD's yearly Celebration of Inventorship. This year's event will be held May 2nd at Top of the Hill's Great Room facility, starting at 5:30pm. As part of the event, Dr. Brookhart has agreed to give a brief talk about his experiences as a Carolina inventor.
Undergraduate proficiency exams will be given on
Monday, August 19, 2013
Follow this link for more information about the exam, beginning at 08:30 am in Venable/Murray Hall G202.
Published in Macromolecules, Jason Rochette in the Ashby Group describes how the synthesis of a library of poly(ester urethane)s (PEUs) containing pendant photoresponsive moieties afforded through the incorporation of one of two novel bifunctional monomers resulted in degradable materials with a range of tunable thermal and mechanical properties.
Examination of these materials under physiological conditions displayed tunable degradation with rates faster than PCL-based materials, and initial biocompatibility studies exhibited negligible cytotoxicity for HeLa cells based on results of ATP assay. The ability to tune thermal properties also allowed specific polymer compositions to boast transition temperatures within a range of applicable temperature for thermal shape memory.
Catalytic transformations of C1 feedstocks are a key foundation of the chemical industry. Formic acid is a C1 species that is especially difficult to convert to more valuable products. Formic acid is also readily produced from renewable resources such as CO2 or biomass. New transformations of formic acid are therefore needed to promote development of renewable C1 chemistry; conversion to methanol would represent a renewable route to a major commodity chemical and high energy density fuel. In 1911, Sabatier and Mailhe reported that some dimethoxymethane was produced upon thermolysis of formic acid over thorium oxide, thereby providing indirect evidence of methanol production. Given the great interest in the facile interconversion of various C1 chemicals, it is remarkable that one hundred years have passed without further reports on this matter.
A team of investigators, including the Miller Group, has set out to uncover new routes to methanol as part of the NSF Center for Enabling New Technologies Through Catalysis (CENTC). Published in Angewandte Chemie, that team now reports that a molecular iridium species catalyzes the disproportionation of formic acid to methanol, water, and CO2. This study represents the first well-defined example of such a reaction mode of formic acid. Methanol is produced under mild, aqueous conditions, without the use of any organic solvents or hydrogen gas.