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November 11, 2002
Volume 80, Number 45
CENEAR 80 45 p. 49
ISSN 0009-2347

Grants Beget New Combicenters At Pitt And BU


The University of Pittsburgh and Boston University already had combinatorial chemistry research centers. But now they're going to have better ones, thanks to grants announced last month by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, Bethesda, Md.

NIGMS has awarded a total of more than $5.5 million to the two institutions over the next year to convert their combinatorial facilities into Centers of Excellence in Chemical Methodologies & Library Development (CMLDs). The two grants together are expected to total more than $20 million over five years. The purpose of the grants is to facilitate research on "new, highly efficient methods for synthesis, separation, purification, and analysis that will accelerate the creation of libraries and enable a broader range of structures to be made," NIGMS Program Director John M. Schwab says.

Pitt's new CMLD, directed by chemistry professor Peter Wipf, will focus on methods for peptidomimetic library synthesis, the use of fluoropolymer-based microreactors for nanoscale parallel organic synthesis, and library syntheses based on fluorous phase separation.

"We're not just making small variations on chemistry that's already published," Wipf says. "We're trying to explore new techniques and new strategies to make molecules that look very different from what you can purchase or find elsewhere."

Assistant professor of chemistry John A. Porco Jr., director of BU's CMLD, says it will specialize in stereochemical and positional diversity in library synthesis and in the asymmetric synthesis of complex natural-product-like libraries. Porco and three other BU chemistry faculty members, each with a different subspecialty in the field of chemical synthesis, will carry out research in the center. "We expect that the BU CMLD will become an epicenter of chemical research and training in the Boston area and will provide molecules of unprecedented complexity for use in biological research," Porco says.

The CMLD grants are "substantial," comments Andrew P. Combs, head of a directed parallel synthesis group and a central nervous system medicinal chemistry project at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Pitt and BU "will now become powerhouses in diversity-oriented synthesis and the development of new methods. It will be interesting to see what they can do with the technologies developed in their CMLD labs."

BU'S CMLD Instrumentation in the new facility includes Quest 205 and 210 parallel synthesizers (in the vented hoods) and a Waters prep high-performance liquid chromatography system (right).


Chemical & Engineering News
Copyright © 2002 American Chemical Society

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Cover Story
Advances in synthesis, purification, and analysis further refine the combinatorial approach, now a mainstream tool in drug discovery

Grants Beget New Combicenters At Pitt And BU

'A Pharmaceutical Company Would Never Do This'

Chemical companies see value in participating in the fledgling Combinatorial Methods Center

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