The Emory News Center recently published an article outlining a series of initiatives through which Emory University hopes to foster scholarly and research eminence. As part of its mission, titled “One Emory: Engaged for Impact”, Emory aims to inspire “Innovation through Scholarship and Creative Expression”. To achieve this goal, a Task Force on the Future of Basic Science Research was organized to identify how to maximize the success and impact of our research efforts.
This task force was co-chaired by Guida Silvestri and the Department of Chemistry’s own Dr. Huw Davies. Two priority research initiatives were decided upon as a result of this effort: “Biological Discovery through Chemical Innovation” and “From Molecular Pathogenesis to Global Pandemics”. Dr. Davies, along with Dr. Haian Fu, leads the “Biological Discovery through Chemical Innovation” initiative with the aim of accelerating the development of the next generation of research tools, effective and safe drugs, and diagnostic agents.
“The idea is to enhance molecular science at Emory broadly,” says Davies. “The focus is not just on the potential for developing drugs, but on achieving more impactful basic science by deepening knowledge of biology and novel chemistry.”
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.”
“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.”
On Tuesday, July 10th, Hyunmin “Ace” Park successfully defended his thesis, “Synthesis of small molecule therapeutics and ligands utilizing rhodium carbenoid chemistry”. Hyunmin’s thesis committee included his thesis advisor, Dr. Huw Davies, and members Dr. Nathan Jui and Dr. Hyunsuk Shim.
In the Fall, Hyunmin will be moving to South Korea to work for LG Chem.
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.
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 Naturepublications, 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.
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.
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.