On Wednesday 21 February 2018, students at Queen Mary University of London’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences (SBCS) were treated to a fascinating lecture from Varinder Aggarwal, a leading figure in UK chemical synthesis.
Aggarwal is noted for his lengthy list of research publications and has received numerous awards in his field, the most recent of which was the RSC Synthetic Organic Chemistry Award in 2017.
The topic of his lecture was ‘Assembly Line Synthesis’ and Aggarwal showed how his group’s organic methodology developed around the chemistry of boron, and more specifically simple boronic ester species, has led to application in the synthesis of several natural products, through iterative homologation (i.e. sequential growth) of the boronic esters with simple carbon-based reagents.
The talk was split into three sections, how to prepare the boronic ester starting materials, the assembly line process itself and the termination phase (i.e. how to transform the boronic esters in the products into other useful functional groups). He also demonstrated an ingenious method of natural product structural reassignment through the preparation of a diastereomeric mixture of compounds with a carefully predefined ratio of diastereoisomers that enabled correlation of the NMR spectra of the synthetic and natural samples.
The Dewar Lecture is an annual lecture that has taken place at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) since 2008 and celebrates the ground breaking work of former Chair of Chemistry at Queen Mary College of the University of London Professor Michael Dewar, who developed the perturbation molecular orbital (PMO) theory. Aggarwal’s lecture was a fitting tribute to Dewar’s work and is sure to inspire the large number of students in attendance.
To learn more about open lectures and seminars at QMUL SBCS, take a look at our Special Lecture Series and Research Events.