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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N035119/1
Title: Spirocycles, Carbocycles and Heterocycles: Unified Routes via Catalyst Selection
Principal Investigator: Taylor, Professor R
Other Investigators:
O'Brien, Professor P Unsworth, Dr WP
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of York
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2016 Ends: 11 December 2019 Value (£): 413,899
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Asymmetric Chemistry Catalysis & Applied Catalysis
Chemical Synthetic Methodology Microsystems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 May 2016 EPSRC Physical Sciences Chemistry - May 2016 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form


Rapid access to structurally diverse organic compounds is the cornerstone of lead generation in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries, essential to meet the burgeoning worldwide healthcare and sustenance requirements. There is a growing realisation that traditional lead identification programmes have been limited in terms of their treatment of 3D structures and there is much current research based on the investigation of molecules which cover much wider regions of chemical space. However, such synthetic approaches to generate complex 3D organic architectures are often time-consuming and labour-intensive - and separate routes are normally required to access different types of structure.

In this programme, a number of simple synthetic routes will be designed to convert cheap, readily available starting materials into high energy reactive intermediates which will be selectively converted into a range of diverse structural types by careful choice of catalysts. Attention will be given to environmental factors (low catalyst loading, telescoped procedures, scale-up potential). This part of the study will uncover fundamental principles in catalysis, mechanism and reactive intermediate chemistry. The sequences will be designed to produce products which occupy 3D space that is under-represented in typical screening libraries and which possess good 'lead-like' properties; 3D shape will be evaluated computationally using a process called principal moments of inertia (PMI). Extensions to give asymmetric variants, solid-supported options, and further diversification will be explored as will validation the novel methodology in target synthesis.

In collaboration with our industrial partners, some targets will be chosen with the aim of generating potential pharmaceutical and agrochemical lead compounds which will be made available for biological screening. The proposal is underpinned by significant and promising preliminary studies and we expect that the sequences will be adopted by synthetic chemists in both industrial and academic arenas.

The new chemistry and technology described fits full square in the EPSRC Dial-a-Molecule grand challenge area, and in several current Priority Areas (Catalysis, Novel and Efficient Chemical Synthesis, Sustainable Chemistry and eventually New Physical Sciences for Biology and Healthcare, and Innovative Production Processes). The new science is also relevant to the areas of catalysis and training highlighted in the EPSRC Strategic Plan 2015, with great potential in the manufacturing and healthcare sectors, also highlighted in the 2015 plan. In addition, the novel chemistry should be useful to prepare new structures relevant to the 2014 EPSRC initiative in anti-microbial resistance (AMR). Of particular importance are the potential applications of the new methodology in the UK pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries.

This ambitious programme will be carried out by a PDRA over a 3 year period.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.york.ac.uk