The research carried out within the Organic Synthesis group is largely focused on the development of novel synthetic methods and applications of these in target synthesis, most often either natural products or biologically active compounds of pharmaceutical or agrochemical significance. In many cases, the inspiration for developing the new methodology arises from a consideration of the structural features of such targets.
Particular areas of current interest are in heterocyclic synthesis, both saturated and heteroaromatic. Driven by the demands of industry and environmental considerations, much of this effort is aimed at defining new methods for the highly efficient and catalytic generation of such compounds. This can involve new heterogeneous catalysts, reactions in flow systems and the application of novel rearrangement reactions or radical chemistry.
A particularly strong theme is the formation of such compounds by the electrophile-driven addition of nucleophiles to unsaturated carbon-carbon bonds. A long standing interest in pericyclic reactions continues in the areas of Diels-Alder chemistry, various sigmatropic rearrangements and electrocyclic reactions. Organocatalysis, an increasingly important area in view of the toxicity of many transition metals, is well represented within the group. Current target types include complex polycyclic peptides, alkaloids, steroids, terpene alkaloids and plant-derived oxygen heterocycles.