WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., July 10, 2008 -- Thomas E. Smith, associate professor of chemistry at Williams College, has been awarded a $217,710 three-year grant by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health (NIH) for "Asymmetric Methods for the Synthesis of Pyran-Based Anticancer Natural Products."
"This research is concerned with the development of new methods that will allow for the efficient preparation of anticancer compounds," said Smith. He and his team will examine several natural products of promising medicinal value to formulate an efficient general strategy for the asymmetric synthesis of these types of complex molecular architectures.
The molecules that will be examined are acutphycin, which inhibits the growth of malignant cells; tedanolide C, which exhibits potent cytotoxicity against cancer cell lines; and other novel natural products of marine origin.
This study will build on Smith's earlier work on pyran-based products, which was funded by a 2003 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. Chiral pyran-based ring systems (six-membered rings composed of carbon and oxygen atoms) are found in numerous biologically relevant natural product classes.
At Williams since 1998, Smith teaches courses on the evolution and operation of human medicines, synthetic organic chemistry, and introductory organic chemistry. His research is concerned with organic synthesis and its applications in biology and pharmacology.
Smith's findings on organic synthesis appear in a number of chemistry journals and academic publications, most recently the Journal of Organic Chemistry, Organic Letters, and the Journal of Chemical Education.
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