Synthetic organic chemistry is the art of building-up organic compounds from smaller entities. This science has found application in the synthesis of organic compounds of commercial interest, in the construction of new, potentially bioactive molecules derived from rational design, in the challenge to synthesize very complex natural products, in finding new methods and strategies to render this science more efficient
Molecular Design and Synthesis is one of the divisions of the Department of Chemistry at KU Leuven. Within this division, the colleagues listed above are carrying out research that is situated in the domains of heterocyclic chemistry, peptide mimetics and chemistry of natural product analogues. Extensive use is made of process intensification techniques such as microwave or sonochemically enhanced reactions as well as continuous flow chemistry methodology. New synthetic methodologies such as noble metal (e.g. Ag, Au, Pd) catalyzed coupling reactions, and multicomponent reactions to get fast access to libraries of bioactive compounds are being developed. NMR spectroscopy is used extensively as a tool to evaluate the structures of the products obtained. The participating colleagues have extensive collaborations allowing to test and optimize the medicinal properties of the relevant compounds.
The research of the Group for Organic Chemistry (ORGC) at the VUB, headed by Prof. Steven Ballet and Prof. Guido Verniest, focuses on the synthesis of modified peptides as well as low molecular weight molecules (small molecules) and the development of new synthetic methods for application in medicinal and materials chemistry. The ORGC collaboration network constitutes a platform for the thorough and efficient characterization of the chemical (3D) structure, but also for the determination of the in vitro and in vivo bioactivity of the prepared compounds.
The research unit has established a long standing tradition in the preparation of modified peptides and applications thereof, under the direction of Prof. em. Dirk Tourwé. Being appointed as an associate professor at the VUB, and being trained in the ORGC group, Prof. Steven Ballet carries this research on, making use of the gained expertise. With further support of Prof. Guido Verniest, the group also has expertise in the development of new synthetic methodology, mainly in the field of non-peptide heterocycles, alkyne transformations and late transition metal catalysis. ORGC is an interdepartmental research unit (Department of Chemistry and Department of Bioengineering Sciences) with strong links to the Faculty of Pharmacy and Medicine and the Faculty of Engineering of the VUB.
The Supramolecular Chemistry Group operates at the interphase of organic and polymer chemistry aiming to develop adaptive and responsive smart materials. Within this research, we have developed strong expertise in the utilization of less common synthetic methodologies for organic and polymer synthesis:
These advanced synthesis tools are available in our group and they allow the development and optimization of fast and green synthetic protocols. In addition, fast and efficient preparation of focused libraries of compounds is enabled by the automated synthesizers.
The major activity of the Organic Synthesis group is the development of new sustainable synthetic methodologies, with a focus on transition-metal catalyzed transformations and organometallic chemistry. In particular, the expertise of Prof. Maes (group spokesman) in the transition-metal catalyzed C-H bond activation and functionalization is unique in Belgium and is well recognized worldwide. Specific research lines are related to the replacement of expensive catalytic metals with cheaper and more abundant alternatives, techniques for recovery of homogeneous catalysts, and the application of catalytic synthetic methodologies to the synthesis and derivatization of heterocyclic scaffolds. Prof. Abbaspour Tehrani is an expert in the synthesis and derivatization of imines. Recently, he started the development of new biobased (renewable) building blocks.
The main focus of the Organic Synthesis Research Group of UGent (Faculty of Science) is the chemical synthesis and derivatisation of target compounds with non-trivial carbon connectivities, such as those found in polycyclic Natural Products.
Chemical expertise keywords: terpenes, furans, carbocationic processes, fused polycyclic systems, stereochemistry, cycloadditions, click chemistry, natural products, organic reactivity
The Organic and Biomimetic Chemistry Research Group at UGent belongs to the Faculty of Science.
The group has built an extensive expertise in the synthesis, modification, conjugation and crosslinking of large biomolecules such as peptides and oligonucleotides. Methodologies for selective chemical modification of specific residues within peptides and nucleic acids have been developed. Profound knowledge concerning the construction of conformationally restricted peptides has been generated through synthesis of multipodal scaffolds and immobilization of up to three different peptides onto them. Both short and longer helical peptides have been generated for immobilization through linear or convergent strategies.
Prof. Chris Stevens
Prof. Matthias D’hooghe
Prof. Sven Mangelinckx
The SynBioC (Synthesis, Bioresources and Bioorganic Chemistry) Research Group focuses on diverse aspects of organic and bioorganic chemistry. Key research topics are related to methodology development in organic synthesis, heterocyclic chemistry in general and the study of small-ring azaheterocycles in particular (ring transformation of aziridines, azetidines and beta-lactams), the synthesis of bioactive substances with applications in various fields (medicine, crop protection,…), aminophosphonate chemistry, natural products chemistry, renewable resources (modification of biopolymers, the production of biofuels and renewable fuel additives,…), microwave-assisted synthesis, and microreactor technology (flow chemistry). The group is well equipped to deal with all aspects concerning the synthesis, purification and structure elucidation of new organic compounds.
Chirality determines the biological activity of a large number of natural and synthetic compounds, e.g. drugs: mostly, only one of the enantiomers displays the desired biological activity, while the opposite enantiomer can be inactive, show a different type of activity, or even can be extremely toxic. Accordingly, the development of novel synthetic methods allowing to obtain pure enantiomers instead of racemates is of tremendous importance for the pharmaceutical industry nowadays. The most efficient and economic way to reach this goal is by inducing chirality in a prochiral substrate using a chiral catalyst. Such a catalyst mostly consists of a transition metal (e.g. Pd, Rh, …) chelated by chiral ligands, creating a chiral environment in the transition state. The synthesis and screening of novel chiral ligands is an important research topic in our laboratory.
The group has also gained expertise in enzyme-catalyzed reactions for the synthesis of chiral building blocks.
Apart from this, the group has ample experience in solid phase synthesis of peptides and small heterocyclic peptidomimetics.
Polymer Reaction Design(UHasselt)
The PRD group strives for the development of new materials via state of the art polymer synthesis methods. From fundamentals and kinetics of polymerizations to the design of new polymer reaction pathways, all elemental steps are addressed and custom-made precision polymer materials are constructed. Continuous flow synthesis in microreactors is one of the most prominent research lines, next to surface modification, light induced ligation reactions and kinetic modelling of complex polymerization systems.
Specific synthesis techniques offered: