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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P004997/1
Title: Sustainable Electron-Transfer Processes for the Synthesis and Functionalization of Nitrogen-Containing Compounds
Principal Investigator: Leonori, Dr D
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AstraZeneca UK Limited
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 February 2017 Ends: 31 January 2022 Value (£): 942,832
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Asymmetric Chemistry Catalysis & Applied Catalysis
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
20 Sep 2016 EPSRC Physical Sciences - Fellowship Interview September 2016 Announced
21 Jul 2016 EPSRC Physical Sciences Chemistry - July 2016 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Organic chemistry occupies a central position within the chemical sciences because through its development it grants access to new molecular systems and materials that are vital to the advancement of other sciences and ultimately the wellbeing of society. The ability to create carbon-nitrogen bonds is one of the most important goals in organic synthesis as nitrogen-containing compounds are widespread as therapeutic agents, agrochemicals, organic dyes and materials: as an example, the 20 top-selling drugs all contain C-N bonds.

From this perspective, it is now becoming increasingly important not just to be able to create new and complex molecules but also to identify novel methods that can access them in a more efficient, selective and sustainable way. In fact, factors such as cost, toxicity and waste production in chemical synthesis urgently needs to be addressed. The United Nations General Assembly 68th Session has proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. A key conclusion of this assembly was the recognition about "the importance of raising global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health". The overarching aim of my Fellowship is to address this crucial problem by developing fundamentally new catalytic methods that enable the construction of C-N bonds harnessing visible-light as the source of energy. In this way we will provide unique reactions that will streamline the synthesis of N-containing molecules by enabling easy access to N-radicals.

The project is divided in 4 different but complementary parts aimed at addressing specific challenges relevant to the formation of C-N bonds with applications in chemical synthesis, biology and materials.

1. We will use visible-light to enable novel electron transfer reactions that will generate aminyl and amidyl radicals. Here we will develop divergent methods for the addition of N and H, as well as N and O atoms across alkenes to form cyclic amines and amides. Then, we will use these activation modes for the generation of a broad series of poly functionalised molecules like diamines, amino (di)alcohol, aminothiols, diamino alcohols and thio-aminoalcohols with defined 3D shapes.

2. These visible-light-mediated transformations will be expanded by developing multicomponent reactions. Here we will develop processes where various reaction partners will sequentially react around the key electron transfer manifold to deliver polyfunctionalised N-compounds. Thus we will provide innovative manifolds that will combine high atom-, step-, and time-economy with great possibilities for molecular diversification

3. The development of catalytic protocols that facilitate the formation of stereo defined C-N bonds is of great importance, especially in a therapeutic context in which 3D molecules are acknowledged to have a higher chance of clinical success. We propose to develop a novel strategy based on the use of chiral catalysts to use nitrogen-radicals in asymmetric synthesis. There is no method for carrying out the kind of transformation which is proposed.

4. The controlled functionalization of non-activated C-H bonds is one of the most challenging tasks in current organic chemistry but has the potential to streamline the synthesis of many compounds. Here, we will develop remote functionalizations of unactivated C-H bonds by harnessing the ability of nitrogen-centered radicals to undergo C-H abstraction reactions.

The successful implementation of this research program will deliver novel and sustainable methods that can make the synthesis of nitrogen-containing compounds quicker, greener and more efficient. The development of methods that facilitate the identification as well as the preparation of small molecule drugs, biological probes, agrochemicals and materials will impact the health and wellbeing UK society.
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Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk