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Asymmetric Catalysis, (Bio)Supramolecular Chemistry, Total Synthesis & Isotope Chemistry (BEWU16SF)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr S Bew
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Our research has at its core the application of synthetic organic chemistry, using it solve, probe and generate new molecular motfs that enable problems to be solved and properties explored. Our interests are broad and based on:

1. Asymmetric catalysis: using and developing organoBronsted acid catalysts to generate new synthesis methodology and its subsequent application to natural product synthesis (ref 1).
2. Exploring the utility of organocatalysis for the ‘dial up and lock in’ of stable isotopes into new entities that have medicinal, analytical and imaging properties (ref 2). The ‘real world’ utility of this chemistry developed is being probed in the detection of cancer and Alzheimers disease.
3. We are creating an artificial polyketide synthase biomachine using a functionalised calixarene (ref 3); here the dynamic ‘breathing’ properties of calixarenes enables polyketide chain extension. Our machines could significantly influence molecular and structural biology with future impacts and applications in synthetic and systems biology.
4. A challenging problem in 21st century organic synthesis is the development of mild protocols that allow stereogenic centres remote to a reactive center to positively influence the asymmetric synthesis of multiple new stereogenic centers. Tackling antimicrobial resistance we are developing new asymmetric synthesis routes to analogs of the antibiotic of last resort, vancomycin, using methodology that generates optically active peptidoaziridines as the ‘core’ building block (ref 4).
5. Using biosupramolecular chemistry we are interested in the rational design and chemical synthesis of novel synthetic protein ligands that undergo bespoke biosupramolecular recognition under physiological conditions allowing the interrogation, modulation and probing of supramolecular surface interactions in four biologically and pharmaceutically important proteins. Despite the enormous potential of protein surface binders as tools for biochemical research, to date relatively few successful example have been reported. Our research aims to rectify this.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


i) S. P. Bew, P. Pesce, R. Carrington, D. L. Hughes, J. Liddle Adv. Syn. Cat., 2009, 351, 2579; S. P. Bew, S. A. Fairhurst, M. A. Wilson, L. Legentil, P. Pesce, R. Carrington, D. L. Hughes, J. Liddle, S. Nigudkar Org. Lett., 2009, 11, 4552.
ii) Novel process and catalyst for synthesizing aziridines, Bew, Sean Patrick; Thurston, Sean Michael, PCT Int. Appl. (2013), WO 2013179052 A1 20131205.
iii) Hybrid Calix[4]arenes via Ionic Hydrogenation and Transition-Metal-Mediated Processes, Bew, Sean P.; Brimage, Rebecca A.; Hiatt-Gipson, Glyn; Sharma, Sunil V.; Thurston, Sean, Organic Letters, 2009, 11, 2483-2486. Upper Rim Appended Hybrid Calixarenes via Click Chemistry, Bew, Sean P.; Brimage, Rebecca A.; L'Hermite, Nathalie; Sharma, Sunil V., Organic Letters, 2007, 9, 3713-3716
iv) Recent advances in the synthesis of new glycopeptide antibiotics Ashford, Polly-Anna; Bew, Sean P. Chemical Society Reviews, 2012, 41, 957-978. Synthesis of structure and function diverse α-D-diazoacetates, α-D-diazoacetamides, α-D-diazoketones, and the antibiotic α-D-azaserine Bew, Sean P.; Ashford, Polly-Anna; Bachera, Dominika U. Synthesis, 2013, 45, 903-912.

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