C-H functionalization is also more efficient, stripping out steps from the linear process of traditional organic synthesis, and reducing unwanted byproducts. "Every organic chemical has multiple C-H bonds, like the branching of a tree," Davies says. "That makes it possible to have convergence, a tremendously fast and powerful way to join two compounds together and build new molecules."
Emory competed with more than 50 other universities to win a $1.5 million NSF grant in 2009, which funded phase one of the CCHF. "The work of the center is right in the middle of my scientific passion," says Davies, whose lab developed a rhodium catalyst that can selectively activate C-H bonds.
In addition to the Davies lab, the Emory CCHF team includes chemists Simon Blakey and Cora MacBeth, and computer scientist Jamal Musaev, director of Emory's Cherry Emerson Center for Scientific Computation. World-class investigators of C-H activation from Stanford, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Scripps Research Institute round out the center's inaugural team.
"Organic chemistry tends to be incredibly competitive, with people mostly working in isolation," Davies says. "But we all recognized the grand challenge before us, and developed the trust needed to become an effective team."
The CCHF recently expanded to include a total of 25 scientists from 15 universities, representing the most comprehensive group of top experts in C-H functionalization ever assembled. The center has also forged alliances with companies in a range of industries, from pharmaceuticals to farming, that are eager to tap sustainable methods for the synthesis of fine chemicals. The collaboration has b
|Contact: Beverly Clark|