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ACS Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Roundtable award goes to Scottish chemist

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2010 The American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI) Pharmaceutical Roundtable has awarded its 2010 research grant to Scottish chemist David Cole-Hamilton, Ph.D., for making great strides in expanding green chemistry and engineering practices in the global pharmaceutical industry. Cole-Hamilton will use the one-year $150,000-grant to further his study of the hydrogenation of amides to amines, resulting in improved benefits for the environment. He is the Irvine Professor of Chemistry, EaStCHEM, University of St. Andrews, Scotland.

Cole-Hamilton's research seeks to provide safer and environmentally friendly solutions to convert amides to amines, important in the development of many pharmaceutically active compounds. Conversion of the amide to the amine is usually conducted using a metallic hydride source such as sodium borohydride or lithium aluminum hydride.

The reactions are stoichiometric and large amounts of aluminum- or boron- containing side products are formed. Requiring separation from the desired amine product, these side products are usually disposed of in a landfill. The Roundtable identified greener amide reductions as one of the 12 key green chemistry research areas important for the pharmaceutical industry.

Cole-Hamilton's study will build upon exciting preliminary results, which proved it should be possible to use catalytic amide hydrogenation, which would only give water as a side product. If the catalyst is very active or can be recycled, there is no need for any significant waste from this reaction.

Since 2007 the grant program has awarded $800,000 toward research in the 12 key green chemistry research areas. All funding is made possible by a partnership between the ACS GCI and an alliance of major pharmaceutical companies Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Codexis, Dr. Reddy's, DSM Pharmaceutical Products, Eli Lilly and Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Inc., Novartis, Pfizer, and Roche.

Under the leadership of Cole-Hamilton, the St. Andrews group will collaborate with members of the Roundtable to improve the technology and allow it to be introduced widely and without restriction into the pharmaceutical industry. Major targets will be lowering the temperature and especially the pressure at which reactions are carried out, improving the selectivity toward the desired amines (currently 85-90 percent, with alcohols as the side products) and exploring scope and the functional group tolerance of the reaction.


Contact: Julie Manley
American Chemical Society

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