Two Prestigious Scholars Shared the Frontiers of Organic Synthesis

Two prestigious young organic chemists Prof. Jin-Quan Yu and Prof. Phil S. Baran from the Scripps Research Institute of the United States visited Wuhan University from Oct. 17th to Oct. 20th, 2015. They held the 15th and 16th. "Yangtze River Forum of Modern Sciences" at Chuanglong lecture hall of the College of Chemistry and Molecular Sciences on the morning of Oct. 19th, and delivered a wonderful and impressive lecture respectively. The faculties and students were deeply attracted by this academic feast. The forum was jointly organized by the Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) and College of Chemistry and Molecular Sciences of Wuhan University, and chaired by Prof. Xumu Zhang, the national “Thousand Talents” expert and professor of the College of Chemistry and Molecular Sciences.  


The lecture delievered by Prof. Jin-Quan Yu was entitled "Ligand-Accelerated C-H Activation Reactions: Distance and Geometry". In this topic, Prof. Yu introduced palladium catalyzed C-H bond activation reactions via weak coordination promotion. He reasoned that weak coordination helped construct unique reaction geometry (topology) to reduce activation energy in transition state, thus enabled the inert C(sp3)-H bond activation, remote meta-C-H bond activation, asymmetric C-H bond activation and Low-Catalyst-Loading C-H bond activation. Consequently, his group has achieved a series of innovative research results in this challenging area. In the last part of the lecture, he presented the booming applications of C-Hbond activation in natural products total synthesis and new drug discovery through close collaboration with pharmaceutical companies, demonstrating the prosperous future of this area.


Subsequently, Prof. Phil S. Baran delivered his lecture entitled "Studies in Natural Product Synthesis". He first introduced the “Two-Phase Synthesis Strategy” which is widely used in complex terpene synthesis by presenting the nice works finished in his lab, for example total synthesis of Taxadiene, 14-step synthesis of Ingenol and 19-step synthesis of Phorbol etc. Then, he shared a series of novel synthetic methodologies newly developed by his group for efficient construction of C-O, C-C and C-N bonds, such as electrochemical oxidation of allylic C-H bond, radical participated C-H bond functionalization of heteroaromatic compounds, iron-catalyzed reductive cross coupling of olefins and direct hydromethylation of non-activated olefins and so on. These practical methods have huge potential to be applied in late-stage functionalization of complex natural products and the rapid establishment of active small molecule libraries, which would greatly promote the new drug discovery and chemical biology research. Finally, Prof. Baran released the most recent research progress from his group: Scalable Asymmetric Synthesis of Maoecrystal V- a complex bioactive terpene, and pointed out the future direction in natural products synthesis area should be “Scalability”.


At the end of the forum, Prof. Jin-Quan Yu and Prof. Phil S. Baran were awarded "the Yangtze River Academic Forum" commemorative plaque by Prof. Aiwen Lei, the vice-president of IAS and professor of the College of Chemistry and Molecular Sciences.


In the afternoon, the two distinguished guests visited the laboratories engaged in organic synthesis in WHU and conducted in-depth academic exchange and discussions.

(Correspondent: Ying Hu (胡瑛))  

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