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Professor Varinder Aggarwal awarded a 5 year ERC Advanced Investigator Grant

1 June 2015

Congratulations to Professor Varinder Aggarwal who has been awarded a 5 year ERC Advanced Investigator Grant valued at £2m entitled, 'Efficient, Flexible Synthesis of Molecules with Tailored Shapes: From Photoswitchable Helices to anti-Cancer Compounds'.

The ERC grant has an ambitious aim: to revolutionise how we conduct complex organic synthesis. Our plan is to exploit the fundamental chemistry boron to essentially grow carbon chains with control over which groups are added and control over their orientation.  The growth step involves the reaction of a lithiated carbamate with a boronic ester to give a homologated boronic ester which we have shown to occur with complete stereocontrol. Furthermore, the reaction shows >98% efficiency in most cases and can be conducted iteratively and in one pot (up to 9 iterations has been demonstrated with full stereocontrol). We will now extend this methodology to more functionalised carbamates as this will enable the rapid synthesis of more functionalised molecules. The robust methodology is now ripe for automation as this will enable non-specialists to create their own bespoke molecules or for transfer to the solid phase as this will enable the preparation of libraries of molecules. Through applying our assembly-line-synthesis methodology to complex molecules with diverse structures, we will demonstrate its scope, robustness, and full potential.

The ERC grant provides 5 years funding and builds on our previous ERC Advanced grant (2010-2015).

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