[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Skip to Main Content

Science & Technology

Advertise Here
July 11, 2011
Volume 89, Number 28
pp. 34
Profiles From NOS

Brett Fors: The Guy With The Namesake Ligand

Carmen Drahl

  • Print this article
  • Email the editor

Text Size A A


To troll the nightly poster sessions at the National Organic Chemistry Symposium is to combine stargazing with a high school reunion. Nobel Laureates rub elbows with undergraduates. Grad school lab mates who haven't seen each other in years catch up. And a spread of food, wine, and beer fuels chemists all night.

It was there that Brett P. Fors, a freshly minted Ph.D. from Stephen L. Buchwald's lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, presented a poster. Fors has already been accorded a privilege that few chemists can claim—he has a ligand, called BrettPhos, named after him.

BrettPhos was designed to facilitate palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions that form C–N bonds, in cases where the nitrogen comes from a primary amine, Fors told C&EN. A challenge had been getting selective monoarylation—that is, getting one aryl ring attached to the primary amine instead of two. BrettPhos pulls off monoarylation very well. But since the original report of BrettPhos, the Buchwald team has learned that the ligand is also effective in Suzuki coupling chemistry, trifluoromethylation reactions, and fluorinations.

"It's opened up a lot of different doors, but that wasn't the plan at first," Fors said. "There was a lot of luck involved."

New ligands get named at Buchwald group meetings, Fors explained. Originally, the ligand was going to be named BPhos, but another molecule had already claimed that name. So the group's decision was made to honor Fors's contributions to the research, and they expanded the B to Brett. He's not the only member of the Buchwald inner circle to have a namesake ligand. As the journal Nature's blog The Sceptical Chymist has reported, some of Buchwald's cats also have ligands named for them—RuPhos, for example, after Rufus. But Fors doesn't call his ligand by its given name. "I actually can't say it—it's kind of weird," he said.

Fors helped develop another ligand during his time in the Buchwald group. That ligand will be published soon and will be named after another Buchwald feline, he said. Next up for Fors is a postdoctoral stint at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with Craig J. Hawker. But Fors has something else on his agenda—to develop a ligand to name after his wife, Carly.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
  • Print this article
  • Email the editor

Services & Tools

ACS Resources

ACS is the leading employment source for recruiting scientific professionals. ACS Careers and C&EN Classifieds provide employers direct access to scientific talent both in print and online. Jobseekers | Employers

» Join ACS

Join more than 161,000 professionals in the chemical sciences world-wide, as a member of the American Chemical Society.
» Join Now!