The Sceptical Chymist | ACS: Organic highlights

Published in Chemistry

I’ve spent the majority of my time in the organic sessions here at the ACS meeting, and the standout highlights have to be the Young Academic Investigators on Monday and the Arthur C. Cope award scholars symposium yesterday. In the first of these I particularly enjoyed talks by Richmond Sarpong and Chris Vanderwal who both spoke on uses of pyridines in natural product synthesis – although from very different perspectives.

Richmond described synthetic efforts towards a number of heterocyclic products from a common bromomethoxypicoline; readers with a JACS subscription can read about it here. While the structure of the original pyridine is fairly well intact in Richmond’s final products, this could not be further from the truth for Chris who spends his time ripping pyridine rings open using the Zincke reaction, more details here.

Moving on to the Cope scholars, Paul Chirik‘s description of what he calls Modern Alchemy – essentially looking at how to use cheaper and abundant metals for catalysis was very entertaining. Apparently, if you need to explain to your mother why an iron catalyst might be better than a platinum one, then tell her that ’the price of stamps (self-adhesive) would increase by 5% per year because of the cost of platinum which can’t be recovered from the glue.’ Other highlights included Bill Jones dancing around the stage explaining the precession of a coordinated rhodium species around an aromatic ring, and Erik Sorensen’s description of the rapid construction of complex molecules such as the natural product (+)-FR182877

While looking up the last link, I couldn’t help noticing that Erik published this work with none other than Chris Vanderwal, and it leads me to this final thought: How many of the presenters in the young investigators session will appear in the Cope award scholars symposium at later ACS meetings and which future young investigators are they currently training?


Stephen Davey (Associate Editor, Nature Chemistry)

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