Natural Inspiration in Catalysis
Chemistry and biology have mutually informed and advanced each other; research at the intersection of these fields has been particularly fruitful for catalysis. My talk will illustrate how enzymes have inspired new advances in synthetic chemistry, both through biomimicry and by developing new biocatalysts which perform new-to-nature chemical transformations. Proton-coupled electron transfers (PCETs) are critical elementary steps in numerous biological redox processes. I will discuss how my work has repurposed PCETs to address longstanding challenges in the catalytic homolysis of strong N–H bonds. I will also discuss how insights from enzymatic mechanisms can be applied to the discovery of new-to-nature biocatalytic activities, which can be subsequently optimized by directed evolution. Using this approach, the exquisite selectivities of enzymes can be applied to challenging reactions such as asymmetric [1,2]-Stevens rearrangements.
Hosted by Professor Jeehiun Lee