Our research encompasses all aspects of synthetic organic chemistry – from the total synthesis of biologically active molecules to the development of new synthetic methods, including transition metal-catalyzed transformations and cascade processes.
We aim to use the exciting and challenging chemical structures displayed by bioactive natural products to inspire the development of new and general reactivity, and to devise efficient syntheses that enable further biological explorations. We have particular interests in (asymmetric) transition metal catalysis, organosilicon chemistry, radical chemistry, and heteroatom-substituted alkynes. Our work in these various areas has a strong element of mechanistic study, where we collaborate with Prof Fernanda Duarte (University of Oxford).
Our interests extend to the uses of organic chemistry in other disciplines. We work with Dr. Janet Lovett (University of St. Andrews) and Prof. Tom Brown (University of Oxford) on the development of novel probes for EPR spectroscopy in nucleic acids. We collaborate with Prof. Greg Challis (University of Warwick) on exploring aspects of the biosynthesis of polyketide natural products. We have strong links to the group of Prof Xihe Bi at Northeast Normal University, Changchun, where we are interested in the reactions of vinyl azides, silver catalysis, and carbene chemistry. Our work is linked to a number of industrial collaborators through the Oxford SBM CDTand EPSRC funding, with projects linked to Pfizer, Syngenta, UCB, Janssen, Novartis and Roche.
We aim to devise robust, concise and exciting routes to bioactive natural products. Inherently favourable complexity-inducing processes (cascade reactions), and reactions which can be developed for applications in other contexts, are key features of our synthetic planning.
An ongoing theme of our synthetic research is the application of organic chemistry in virology. Interests in this area range from the synthesis of antiviral molecules (natural and unnatural, for example the Schisandra natural products) to the development of new molecular probes which specifically target intraviral interactions.