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Division of Natural Sciences & MathematicsDepartment of Chemistry & Biochemistry


Chemistry and Biochemistry

Organic Chemistry

The Cowen group's research program focuses on the development of new synthetic methodologies for the preparation of small, functional organic compounds.  The term, "new synthetic methodologies," essentially refers to the discovery of new chemical reactions. Bringing molecules together through selective, controlled, and predictable chemical reactions enables the construction of larger and/or more complex compounds. Such novel entities, arising from these new methods, may have never been prepared in a laboratory. As such, their unique molecular architectures often exhibit interesting physical or biological properties that would ideally suite these compounds for application as medicines, materials, agrochemicals or other useful commodities. Special emphasis in our research is directed towards the discovery of unique enantioselective reactions that enable the rapid construction of complex chiral molecular architectures. Certain organic compounds possess what is known as chirality due to the asymmetry of their molecular structure. Chiral compounds typically exist as a pair of enantiomers that are non-superimposable mirror images of each other. Since chemical enantiomers interact differently in biological systems it is vital to discover new methods for the selective construction of one enantiomer of a given chiral compound over the other. Such enantioselective reactions are a powerful means to generate interesting chemical structures with defined properties and functions. In order to identify such new stereoselective processes, the design of small molecule catalysts and ligands for both non-metal and metal-mediated transformations are key research activities ongoing in the laboratory. Additionally, the investigation of detailed mechanistic reaction pathways is of paramount importance to the maturation of any new synthetic method. A particular goal of our efforts in chemical synthesis is to produce valuable end products for potential pharmaceutical or material-based applications.

The research of the Kutateladze group is described on their web site.