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Strategies towards the synthesis of the dictyodendrins via iterative metal-catalyzed C-H bond functionalization

Fionn O'Hara

31 Jan 2011

Messel Bursar Fionn O’Hara reports from Pacifichem: The International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. This conference was held from 15-20 December 2010.

I gave an oral presentation in the C-H functionalization symposium entitled ‘Strategies towards the synthesis of the dictyodendrins via iterative metal-catalyzed C-H bond functionalization’. This summarised my PhD research, where I have been investigating how new metal-catalyzed C-H bond functionalization techniques could be used to make the synthesis of complex molecules easier and more efficient. Starting from a simple indole core, my project aims to use a series of C-H bond functionalization reactions including arylation, borylation, amination and oxidation to install the functionality required to form the telomerase inhibitor, dictyodendrin B.

The conference gave me the opportunity to present my PhD research to an international audience and allowed me to get some useful ideas and suggestions that could help me complete my synthesis in the remaining months of my PhD.

Pacifichem was a large conference covering all areas of chemistry, and even within organic chemistry, there were many parallel sessions that covered a broad range of topics. The conference was very multi-national, and I was able to attend lectures from many of the most influential researchers from both North America and Asia. Several of the speakers I was most interested in seeing rarely travel to Europe, so the conference provided a chance to learn more about many different areas of chemistry that I would not normally have had the opportunity to hear about. The main reason I had wanted to attend this conference was because it included a three day symposium specifically on C-H bond functionalization chemistry, which is the topic of my PhD research. Many of the leading research groups in C-H functionalization chemistry are based in the USA, Canada, Japan and China, so this conference, which drew researchers from all over the world, provided an invaluable opportunity to hear exciting new developments in this field.

Some of the highlights for me were Wender’s lecture on function orientated synthesis to develop treatments for diseases such as AIDS, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, Du Bois’s reports on C-H oxidation reactions and the synthesis of the guanidinium toxins, White’s reports of the latest developments in iron-catalyzed C-H oxidation chemistry, and Itami’s discussion of sequential C-H arylation to form tetraarylthiophenes. These were topics that I had been interested in for some time, so it was a fantastic opportunity to hear about this research from the scientists who had developed the chemistry. I was also able to attend lectures in other areas of chemistry that impact upon my research, for example Mulvey’s report on bimetallic metallating agents that can form carbanions with unusual regioselectivity.

I found this conference very valuable for my career. I was able to learn more about several different areas of organic chemistry that I had been interested in for some time, and this has helped me narrow down the specific areas of chemistry that I might want to pursue for postdoctoral research.

Some of the talks I attended contained information that could be useful for other projects within my research group, so I have passed on any relevant information or references. We also discuss which speakers we have found most interesting or inspiring, which is helpful for finding new areas of organic chemistry that might be interesting to learn more about.

I am very grateful to SCI for the funding that made my attendance at this conference possible. It was an immensely valuable opportunity for me, both in terms of learning more about organic chemistry, and also in making contacts that could be valuable in helping me continue my research career at the postdoctoral level. I especially liked feeling that I could participate in the exchange of scientific ideas, and that other people were interested in my project.

Fionn O’Hara,
University of Cambridge

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