Organic Chemistry

Research in Organic Chemistry spans the biomedical and materials sciences, and also includes work at the cutting edge of new methods for molecular construction and characterization.

Modular assembly of end-labeled glycopolymers (Okoth and Basu)Modular assembly of end-labeled glycopolymers (Okoth and Basu)

Recent results include the development of new synthetic methodologies for preparing molecular building blocks used by the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, along with the characterization of reactive intermediates using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and X-rays spectroscopic tools. New forms of microscopy are being used to provide atomic resolution images of the interactions between molecules on surfaces.

Seeing is believing: Modeled image of a molecule with orbitals displayed is overlaid on an actual microscope image of the same molecule on a surface. Note the scale bars - 1 billionth of a meter! (from the Zimmt lab)Seeing is believing: Modeled image of a molecule with orbitals displayed is overlaid on an actual microscope image of the same molecule on a surface. Note the scale bars - 1 billionth of a meter! (from the Zimmt lab)

The identification of new compounds as leads for pharmaceutical design continues to be an area of active research, with new compounds being discovered that may have anti-cancer and anti-microbial activity. Brown chemists have also illuminated the pathways that guide the synthesis of antibiotics by nature, as well as mechanisms that bacteria and cancer cells use when adhering to each other or a target cell.

Novel sensor platforms for applications in biomedical and biowarfare diagnostics are being developed through a collaborative effort integrating polymer science, organic chemistry, nanoscience and molecular and cellular biology. The breadth of the research in organic chemistry is emblematic of both the central role of organic molecules in the world around us, and also of the importance of synthetic tools that are needed to provide new molecules with tunable biological or materials properties.