RACI National Congress Day 1

Sunny Adelaide! For those following along on twitter (#RACI14) you may have noticed that the Australian chemical community are meeting once again. The Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s National Congress for 2014 is well and truly underway and I thought I’d give a quick summary of my first day’s highlights. So far this has been an awesome opportunity to meet with chemists from a diverse background – young and ‘old’ alike. Anyway, without further ado, my top 3 from day 1:

1. Prof. Peter Schreiner, Justus-Liebig University – “Tunneling control of chemical reactions”

First, a quote:

“I never thought I’d be published in JACS for a paper on benzoic acid”

Schreiner presents an elegant look at tunneling, which in this context refers to a reaction under kinetic control that is simply too fast than would be expected by energetics. In other words, the energy barrier is high enough that it is insurmountable, yet the reaction/transformation still occurs. Experimental setup apparently involves passing molecules through tubing at 1000ºC and subsequently cooling them down to 11K over a distance of one inch.

Shadi Amiri, Hans Peter Reisenauer, and Peter R. Schreiner J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 15902–15904.

2. Stacie Canan, Celgene – “Discovery of anti-malarial compounds with a unique mechanism of action”

An excellent plenary introduction to the RACI congress by Stacie Canan. Clearly a huge issue as 20% of child deaths today are caused by malaria. Celgene has utilised a phenotypic drug discovery approach looking for new anti-malarials. Interesting stat for neglected diseases: 1% of New Chemical Entities are for neglected diseases while they are responsible for 10% of the global disease burden. Classic big pharma issue there – nice to see some good progress being made.

3. Chris Vanderwal, University of California, Irvine – “Synthesis of complex, bioactive natural products”

Some fairly impressive work presented by Chris on the stereoselective synthesis of polychlorinated lipids. I can certainly appreciate how building up chlorinated alkanes in a stereoselective way is easier said than done…

Tune in next time for day 2 highlights!