Emory University News: Record-Breaking Research Funding

Emory University News recently published an article discussing the value and impact of the record-breaking research funding the University has been awarded this year. In fiscal year 2018, Emory University received $734 million in external research funding, increasing 17% from last year and setting the record for external funding support in the school’s history.

From the article:

 “I commend our faculty and our research leaders for this tremendous accomplishment,” says Jonathan S. Lewin, Emory vice president for health affairs and executive director of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center.“This result reflects a long-term, sustained effort to create meaningful positive impact on health and wellness through our faculty’s groundbreaking discoveries, improving the lives of patients here in Atlanta, across the nation, and around the world.” 

The article also mentioned the $20 million awarded to the Center for Selective C-H Functionalization (CCHF) to fund the next phase of their global effort towards revolutionizing organic synthesis. Huw Davies, director of the CCHF, was quoted:

“Our center is at the forefront of a major shift in the way that we do chemistry. This shift holds great promise for creating new pathways for drug discovery and the production of new materials to benefit everything from agriculture to electronics.”

Click [here] to read the full article!

Huw Davies Receives the Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods

Congratulations to Dr. Huw Davies for being named the recipient of the Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods given by the American Chemical Society for 2019. This award recognizes  outstanding and creative research involved in the discovery and development of novel and useful methods for chemical synthesis.

National award winners were honored at a ceremony in conjunction with the 257th ACS National Meeting on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019 in Orlando, Florida.

Congratulations, Dr. Davies!

Congratulations, Dr. Andrew Steele!

On Friday, April 13th, Andrew Steele successfully defended his thesis, “Natural Products Enabling Biological Discovery: Promysalin and Baulamycins”. Andrew’s thesis committee included his thesis advisor, Dr. William Wuest, and members  Dr. Huw Davies and Dr. Dennis Liotta.

Since moving with the Wuest Group to Emory, Andrew has published two papers, bringing his publication count to five. Andrew will be starting a post-doctoral position at Scripps in Florida where he will be working in the lab of Dr. Ben Shen.

Congratulations, Dr. Steele!

Congratulations, Dr. Kuangbiao Liao!

On Thursday, December 21st, Kuangbiao Liao successfully defended his thesis, “Site-Selective and Stereoselective Functionalization of Non-Activated C-H Bond.” Kuangbiao’s thesis committee included his thesis advisor, Dr. Huw Davies, and members Dr. Lanny Liebeskind and Dr. Simon Blakey.

Kuangbiao was born in Heyuan, Guangdong Province, China in 1990. He attended Sun Yat-sen University for his undergraduate education in 2009, then he moved to Emory University for his doctoral studies in 2013. During his stay, he developed three catalysts to achieve selective functionalization of non-activated primary, secondary, and tertiary C–H bond under the supervision of Prof. Huw M. L. Davies. His work, including two Nature publications, has been recognized by the community and has earned several prestigious awards. After his successful defense, he moved to North Chicago to join Abbvie Inc. as Senior Scientist I.

Congratulations, Dr. Liao!

New Catalyst Developed by CCHF

Side view of the new catalyst. Graphic image by Kuangbiao Liao via escienceommons.

Chemists have developed another catalyst that can selectively activate a carbon-hydrogen bond, part of an ongoing strategy to revolutionize the field of organic synthesis and open up new chemical space.

The journal Nature is publishing the work by chemists at Emory University, following on their development of a similar catalyst last year. Both of the catalysts are able to selectively functionalize the unreactive carbon-hydrogen (C-H) bonds of an alkane without using a directing group, while also maintaining virtually full control of site selectivity and the three-dimensional shape of the molecules produced.

Read the full story by Carol Clark on the Emory esciencecommons blog!

CCHF Receives $20 Million Renewal from NSF

Center Director Huw Davies (right) in the CCHF lab at Emory.

Emory’s Center for Selective C-H Functionalization has received a five year, $20 million renewal from the National Science Foundation. The CCHF is part of NSF’s Centers for Chemical Innovation (CCI) program that supports research centers focused on major, long-term fundamental chemical research challenges. The CCHF aims to bring about a paradigm shift in the logic of chemical synthesis, one that has the potential to impact the construction of all organic molecules. The Center is headquartered at Emory, but has satellite centers at research universities across the U.S. and internationally including UC Berkeley, Stanford, Princeton, and Georgia Tech, among others. The CCHF also works with industrial collaborators, including Novartis, Merck, and AbbVie.

Center Director Huw Davies says, “We are very excited with this opportunity because we feel the momentum of the CCHF continues to build.   An Outlook of the CCHF has just been published, which summarizes what we have achieved so far and where we plan to go in the future.”

As with all CCI, the CCHF also has an outreach mission, seeking to share their science with the public. They are regular participants in the Atlanta Science Festival and sponsors of the Graduate School Prep Club. The CCHF has also pioneered the use of virtual symposia offering talks by researchers that take place at one institution and are simulcast to partner centers and the public worldwide, reaching thousands of viewers.

The CCHF is profiled in-depth in a recent article in ACS Central Science.

Congratulations to Dr. Davies and all Center staff, students, and faculty on this major grant renewal!

Congratulations, Dr. Liangbing Fu!

Liangbing FuLiangbing Fu successfully defended his thesis, “Expanding the Scope of Reactions and Applications of Donor/Acceptor Rhodium(II)-carbenes” on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016. Liangbing’s thesis committed was led by Huw Davies with Simon Blakey and Lanny Liebeskind as additional members.

Earlier this year, Liangbing received the Quayle Advanced/Senior Student Award. During his time at Emory, he published four first-author papers, among others. His first author paper in JACS expanded the scope pf Donor/Acceptor carbene C-H insertion reactions to include relatively electron-deficient substrates. 

Liangbing is currently a postdoctoral scholar at Georgia Tech.

Congratulations, Liangbing!

Summer Science Academy Visits Chemistry

Anthony Sementilli lectures to Summer Science Academy students in the ATOMIC classroom while Cam Pratt looks on. Photo by Emory University Department of Chemistry.
Anthony Sementilli lectures to Summer Science Academy students in the ATOMIC classroom while Cam Pratt looks on. Photo by Emory University Department of Chemistry.

Students from the Summer Science Academy visited chemistry on Wednesday to participate in demos and tours organized by Pi Alpha Chemical Society. The Summer Science Academy is a two-week science enrichment program that provides high school students from traditionally underrepresented minority backgrounds the opportunity to develop a better understanding and appreciation of science by exposing them to an educational environment that is conducive to learning, motivating, challenging, and fun. “Hands on” experiences like the visit to chemistry are designed to heighten students’ interest in science by increasing awareness of careers in science and healthcare.

Anthony and Cam prepare for the cloud demo. Photo by Emory University Department of Chemistry.
Anthony and Cam prepare for the cloud demo. Photo by Emory University Department of Chemistry.

Academy students were treated to a short, accessible lecture about the disciplines of chemistry by graduate student Anthony Sementilli (Lynn Group). During the question and answer period, one of the Academy students asked “Are we going to get to blow things up today?”

Fire! .gif created by Emory University Department of Chemistry.
Fire! .gif created by Emory University Department of Chemistry.

Not to disappoint, Anthony wrapped up the lecture with a series of demos in the chemistry courtyard, including fire (combustion) and ice (liquid nitrogen cloud!) First year student Cam Pratt, newly arrived at Emory in the past week to start a summer rotation in the Davies Group, assisted with the demos.

Summer Science Academy students assist with the Elephant's Toothpaste demo. Photo by Emory University Department of Chemistry.
Summer Science Academy students assist with the Elephant’s Toothpaste demo. Photo by Emory University Department of Chemistry.

The visitors also had the opportunity to participate in the “elephant’s toothpaste” demo. Following the demos, students toured the Jui and Lynn labs with the assistance of Anthony, Ally Boyington (Jui Group), and Michelle Leidy (Scarborough Group).

Students watch the cloud demo. Photo by Emory University Department of Chemistry.
Students watch the cloud demo. Photo by Emory University Department of Chemistry.

The Summer Science Academy will bring two more groups to chemistry on June 22nd at 1:00pm and July 7th at 11:00am. If you are a current graduate student interested in volunteering to help with either visit, email Anthony Sementilli.