There are three primary thrusts which drive projects in the Hill lab:
I. Reaction Methodology
The development of new reactions is critical for advances in many fields such as pharmaceutical, biological, and material sciences because doing so permits access to unique chemical space. Structurally complex sp3-rich polycyclic products represent under explored chemical space, because reactions that allow direct access to these compounds are lacking. Cycloaddition reactions are powerful in that they allow a rapid increase in structural complexity (rings, stereocenters, incorporation of heteroatoms etc.) oftentimes with starting materials that are synthetically tractable. In the Hill lab, we are interested in developing unique enantioselective cycloaddition reactions where stereocontrol is imparted by the catalyst.
II. Natural Products
Isolated from plants, bacteria, marine sponges and other natural sources, complex secondary metabolites (natural products) oftentimes have important biological function (e.g., active in the central nervous system, anti-HIV, anticancer). As such, this chemical matter provides a unique starting point for the development of new pharmaceuticals. Additionally, these compounds are often used as tools for understanding biology, and their complex architectures are well-suited for investigating molecular reactivity in complex chemical environments. A major thrust in the Hill lab is focused on using natural products as tools for understanding complex biology.
III. Total Synthesis
The sequence of reactions by which a complex natural product is obtained is of paramount importance. Unique synthetic strategies can result in the innovative reaction methodologies, uncover new reactivity of small molecules, and begin to address shortages natural compounds used as leads for drug development. Total synthesis also provides a means to confirm the structure of natural products, which can be critical for understanding how they function. The Hill lab is interested using CH functionalization and cycloaddition reactions as key tactics to access complex natural with function.
Sidney Hill was raised in Kinston, North Carolina and conducted undergraduate studies at North Carolina State University. There, he obtained a B.S. in Polymer and Color Chemistry through the College of Textiles, a B.S. in Chemistry through the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in 2010.
In 2015, Sidney received his Ph.D. under the supervision of Prof. Richmond Sarpong from the University of California, Berkeley, where his researched focused on using transition metal-catalyzed cycloisomerization reactions to access natural product scaffolds. As a UNCF-Merck postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Huw Davies at Emory University, his research focused on developing cycloaddition reactions using N-sulfonyltriazoles and rhodium tetracarboxylate catalysts for CH functionalization reactions. Sidney is also actively involved in diversity initiatives such as the Berkeley Science Network, and California Alliance programs to address disparities facing minorities pursuing careers in the physical sciences.