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Chemistry
2019 Project Proposal

Total Synthesis of Antimicrobial Marine Natural Products

Nicholas Dodge (Chemistry)

Antimicrobial resistance represents a serious public health threat.  The discovery of novel antibiotics is required to combat this problem.  Microorganisms that live in extreme conditions such as the ocean depths are a promising source of new drug candidates.  Each year hundreds of new compounds are discovered from marine sources, many with promising antimicrobial activity.  These compounds are often not isolable in large enough quantities for use as pharmaceuticals or even for sufficient biological activity evaluation studies.  This project aims to increase the availability of promising antimicrobial marine natural products by developing efficient, scalable chemical syntheses so that these compounds can be evaluated for biological activity and potentially be developed into new antibiotic drugs.  Total synthesis is often hampered in utility by lengthy synthetic sequences and low overall yields; this project will take a pragmatic approach to chemical synthesis by targeting promising compounds that can be synthesized in fewer than 6 steps and on scales that will provide enough material for other scientists to use in bioactivity studies.

Prerequisites:
Students will need Chem 244 and Chem 245 (Organic Chemistry I and II) as prerequisites for this project.  An excellent understanding of organic chemistry concepts is essential.  Laboratory techniques that were taught in the 244/245 sequence will be used frequently and several advanced organic synthesis techniques will be taught.  Previous research lab experience is not required but the student must have taken introductory chemistry lab and organic chemistry lab classes.

How should students express interest in this project?
I request that all interested students schedule a meeting with me via email (ndodge@vassar.edu).  I will only consider students who have met with me so that I can determine, based on their level of interest and enthusiasm, if the project would be a good fit for the student.