Project Title New Green OrganoCatalytic Methods for Atom-Economic Amide
Robin Yonggui CHI
Robin Chi did his undergraduate studies in Tsinghua University and Hong Kong
Baptist University (1998-2002). He then moved to USA and received his Ph.D.
from the University of Wisconsin (2007). After a two-year postdoctoral stay at
Berkeley, Robin was attracted to Singapore and joined Nanyang Technological
University. He is currently a Nanyang Assistant Professor and Singapore National
Research Foundation (NRF) Fellow in Chemistry. His group’s research interests
include the development of fundamentally novel and practically useful catalysts,
reactions, chemical strategies, and functional materials that address important
scientific challenges of potential economic benefits.
Project Synopsis The proposed research seeks to develop a novel approach for the clean and cost-
effective synthesis of amides and related compounds that are widely present in
pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals. Specifically, when compared to existing
methods, the proposed approach provides the following benefits:
Environmental Benefits: The proposed method is designed to prevent waste
generation, minimize energy usage, and simplify operational processes at the very
early steps of manufacturing. It will use a small (catalytic) amount of designed
substrate to realize cleaner and more effective reactions, thus preventing waste
generation and simplifying product purification. Simplification in product isolation
often leads to the use of less resource (such as energy). The new approach will
also avoid potentially explosive reagents that are currently in use, leading to safer
operations and transpirations.
Economic Benefits: It’s obvious that environmental benefits will lead to economic
incentives. Through waste prevention and simplification in product purification,
the new method will dramatically reduce manufacturing costs. In addition, the
new method itself is a product of significant commercial values. When developed,
the proposed catalysts can be made in large scale at low cost. Given the wide
presence of amides and related molecules in drugs and fine chemicals, the
catalysts can be broadly used by both local and international companies to
generate economic benefits.
Benefits to Singapore:
Singapore is moving towards a knowledge-based and sustainable economy, which
is achievable only when new knowledge can be developed and qualified people
can be trained at least in part locally. The pharmaceutical and chemical industry
makes an important component of the country’s overall economy. The proposed
research aims to development new chemical methods that can be used in
sustainable pharmaceutical manufacturing, and to train students and researchers
that can play a key role in Singapore’s industries in the near future.
Through a close collaboration with GSK, research performed in our laboratory at
NTU can receive an immediate attention for potential applications. Such
collaborations also provide a platform where industry’s needs can be addressed
in a timely manner by academic labs such as ours.
Naturally, the general public will be benefited from the collaborative research
between GSK and our lab. In the long round, the individuals can expect a cleaner
environment, cheaper products, and even more job opportunities.
Total research team Prof. Chi’s research group, currently supported by major funds from Singapore
strength and talents NRF and NTU, is committed to develop fundamentally novel and practically useful
training and knowledge catalysts, reactions, chemical strategies, and functional materials. Built on the
transfer potential if any basis of past success, such as the invention of medically useful non-natural amino
acid synthesis (as documented in a few patents), the group continues to develop
new science of broad applications. Specifically, the GSK-EDB sponsored projects
will focus on sustainable chemistry. The new methods to be developed are easily
transferable from the laboratory to applications.
The proposed research will also provide an excellent opportunity for the training
of students, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and young
researchers in Singapore. We believe educating a pool of young researchers with
a clean chemistry mindset will benefit Singapore and elsewhere in establish
sustainable pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries.
Estimated completion Sep 2011. The proposed projects are expected to be completed in four years;
date measurable accomplishments can be expected annually.