With this CAREER award the Chemical Synthesis program of the Chemistry Division is supporting the research of Professor László Kürti of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Professor Kürti is developing powerful new chemical tools that can be used for the rapid and environmentally friendly synthesis of complex molecules such as pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals that contain densely functionalized aromatic rings. The common theme in these newly developed chemical transformations is that weak N-O bonds are broken and strong carbon-carbon as well as carbon-nitrogen bonds are formed with great efficiency. Importantly, this approach avoids the use of transition metal catalysts that are expensive and often toxic. The operationally simple and transition metal-free direct arylation and amination reactions that emerge from these studies will be easily accessible to researchers in a wide-range of academic and industrial laboratories. Overall, the outcome of this research is expected to have a broad impact on society by providing, both directly and indirectly, greener and cheaper access to valuable organic molecules that find utility in catalysis, materials science and drug discovery. Each year Professor Kürti is offering a series of campus-wide special-topic seminars on key green chemistry principles, current applications in pharmaceutical process chemistry and discussing the challenges and advances in sustainable organic synthesis. A teacher-training program for high school science teachers is provided by Professor Kurti to relay the importance of chemistry with examples focused on new cures for various diseases.

Professor Kürti's laboratory is exploring several fundamentally new strategies for the transition-metal (TM)-free direct arylation of arenes and intramolecular amination of arenes. There are three objectives. First, the TM-free direct arylation of arenes, via [3,3]-sigmatropic rearrangement of N,O-biaryl hydroxylamines as well as S,O-biaryl sulfoxides. Second, the scope and limitation of the TM-free direct amination of arene C-H bonds. Third, primarily through collaborations, the mechanisms of these TM-free arylation and amination reactions are being computationally elucidated. The proposed research significantly advances the field of sustainable organic synthesis by expanding the toolbox of mechanistically well-understood green chemical transformations for the introduction and functionalization of aryl rings.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Chemistry (CHE)
Application #
Program Officer
Jin Cha
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Rice University
United States
Zip Code