Oxidation reactions are among the most important reactions in organic chemistry and play a crucial role in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals, natural products, and other bioactive compounds. Advances in catalytic oxidation reactions have potential for major impact in the discovery and production of pharmaceuticals. The majority of existing catalytic oxidation methods face challenges in their efficiency and selectivity, including chemo-, regio- and stereoselectivity, limiting their use in small- and large-scale applications. The proposed research will develop new oxidation and oxidative coupling methods that form carbon-carbon and carbon-heteroatom bonds, including C(sp3)?H functionalization reactions. Some of the resulting methods will streamline the discovery of new bioactive molecules with diverse three-dimensional architectures, addressing key challenges in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery, while others will provide the basis for streamlined process-scale synthesis of pharmaceuticals. Three complementary project directions are outlined in this proposal. The first focuses on the development of oxidase-type aerobic oxidation catalysts that feature a transition metal and a redox active organic co-catalyst. New bioinspired catalyst systems will be explored that exhibit second-order biomimicry, whereby simple organic precursors undergo oxidative self-processing to create the essential co-catalysts. This process resembles the post-translational modification of amino acid side chains to generate reactive cofactors in Nature. The second project will pursue new electrochemical oxidation methods for the synthesis of organic molecules that are difficult to access via classical synthetic methods. These efforts target the identification of versatile mediators and electrocatalysts that permit the reactions to proceed at low electrode potentials, thereby tolerating diverse functional groups and enabling broad scope and utility. Finally, we will develop radical relay methods for benzylic C?H oxidation and oxidative coupling to afford new C(sp3) C?O, C?N, C?X, and C?C bonds. These efforts will be applied to pharmaceutical building-block diversification, core-modification, and late-stage functionalization. In each of these project areas, empirical reaction discovery efforts will be complemented by mechanistic studies of the catalytic reactions. Close interactions and collaborations with pharmaceutical companies in all phases of this project will play an important role in ensuring the broadest possible impact of our efforts.
Selective oxidation of organic molecules represents one of the key reaction classes available for the synthesis and discovery of pharmaceutical intermediates and therapeutic agents. The research outlined in this proposal will develop a broad range of new oxidation methods that achieve selective formation of new carbon-carbon and carbon-heteroatom bonds.