To Celebrate Black History Month, the Department of Chemistry is presenting special screening of “Percy Julian: Forgotten Genius” a biopic about a trailblazing Black scientist who earned a place in the parthenon of scientific greatness despite facing horrific racism throughout his life — including at prestigious academic institutions. Dr. Julian was the first Black chemist elected to the National Academy of Sciences (only the second African-American scientist to receive the honor), and was awarded >130 patents in chemistry. The first to synthesize the natural product physostigmine, Dr.
Our understanding of polar organic reactivity is based on relationships between rate and equilibrium constants. Thus, strong bases are generally considered to be good nucleophiles as well as poor nucleofuges. Though exceptions from this general rule have long been known, a systematic analysis has been problematic, because rate constants for the reactions of nucleophiles with C-centered electrophiles have often been correlated with Brønsted basicities (i. e., affinities towards the proton).
The Weiss laboratory invents new chemical tools to interrogate biology at the level of atoms and bonds. Many projects in the lab apply phage display to evolve peptides and proteins to bind cancer and diabetes-associated biomarkers. The resultant viruses with the disease-specific ligands have been directly wired into electrical circuits for measurement of disease marker levels in urine through collaboration with Prof. Reg Penner (UCI, Department of Chemistry).
Abstract: Complex molecule synthesis benefits from both methodological advances and strategic innovation. With the belief that a quality synthesis requires a solid strategy, our group focuses largely on synthesis design. Often, our targets are potentially valuable for their biological activities, in which case general applicability to a range of family members and/or unnatural analogues is incorporated into the design.
The gut microbiota contains millions of unique gene products that encode factors that directly and indirectly impact human physiology and disease. Here we focus on gut microbial glucuronidases that reverse the action of mammalian drug and endobiotic metabolizing glucuronidating factors. We show that these bacterial glucuronidase (GUS) enzymes can be potently, selectively and non-lethally inhibited to alleviate toxicities associated with cancer and pain medications. Surprisingly, the novel inhibitors designed employ a secondary amine that highjacks the catalytic cycle of the GUS glycoside
Abstract: The gut microbiome comprises trillions of microorganisms that inhabit the mammalian intestines. These microbes regulate myriad aspects of host physiology, including factors that modulate many inflammatory diseases. Despite the abundance and prevalence of the gut microbiota, little is known regarding the pathways and mechanisms by which these microbes affect host health. Emerging evidence suggests that many small-molecule metabolites that are produced by the gut microbiota have the ability to modulate host defense mechanisms in various inflammatory diseases.
Abstract: Vicinal (1,2-disubstituted) functional group motifs are ubiquitous in structurally complex small molecules that are of academic and industrial importance, including many widely used pharmaceutical agents. Many such functional group combinations, however, remain exceptionally challenging to synthesize. The goal of research in the Engle lab is to develop a general catalytic platform for alkene and alkyne difunctionalization to introduce a diverse array of functional groups at each of the two carbon atoms in a programmable fashion.
The applications of functional nanomaterials towards biological interfacing continue to emerge in various fields, such as in drug delivery and tissue engineering. While the rational control of surface chemistry and mechanical properties have been achieved for several of these biocompatible systems, these biomaterials are rarely synthesized with optical and electronic functionalities that could be beneficial for controlling the behavior of excitable cells (e.g., neurons and cardiac cells) or for biosensing applications.