CCC Background

Combinatorial chemistry increases the efficiency of chemical discovery by allowing the chemist to prepare hundreds to thousands of new compounds quickly and efficiently. Combinatorial chemistry is one example of several emerging technological advances that compose a revolution in organic synthesis, drug discovery, catalyst design, and material sciences.

In collaboration with the Medical School, the faculty at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh has created a Combinatorial Chemistry Center (CCC) because of the crucial role of basic scientific research in support of this new technology. Our goal is to become the leading center of expertise and advanced education in combinatorial chemistry and new methods in chemical discovery.

The CCC nurtures new strategies and methods in solid phase synthesis, fluorous phase synthesis, phase switching purification, catalyst design and assay, and automation in natural product synthesis and process chemistry. We teach courses covering these emerging areas, and the theoretical insight and hands-on experience provided here allow our students to excel in this field.

Our goals are to develop cost-effective and efficient new methods to accelerate the pace of chemical discovery. Industrial scientists working in combinatorial chemistry are our welcome partners in this enterprise. We pursue basic scientific projects that will lead to new concepts, theories, and reaction mechanisms relevant to this field and thereby support rapid further progress. An important aspect of this work is our close interdisciplinary collaboration with colleagues in analytical and physical chemistry, chemical engineering, and the health sciences.

Investigators in the University of Pittsburgh Center for Chemical Methodologies & Library Development (UPCMLD) can offer biomedical collaborators access to small organic molecule libraries which can be used as chemical probes to study cellular pathways. These compounds will help validate new targets for drug therapy, provide new ways to explore cellular pathways, and will accelerate the movement of targets and compounds into the drug-development pipeline.

Three recent key technological advances drive our efforts to build small molecule libraries. First, the successful completion of the Human Genome Project, which was the effort to sequence all 3 billion base pairs in the human genetic blueprint, has provided an enormous cache of biological information and identified a wealth of potential new drug targets. Second, developments in combinatorial chemistry have given academic researchers access to technologies previously available only to researchers in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Third, advances in robotic technology and informatics now allow investigators to screen large numbers of compounds in a single day, orders of magnitude greater than what was possible a decade ago. Furthermore, the National Institutes of Health remain very supportive of national centers specializing in new technologies and small molecule library synthesis and are implementing a roadmap toward molecular libraries and imaging.

CCC & UPCMLD are directed by Prof. Peter Wipf. Prof. Kay Brummond serves as the Vice-Director of the UPCMLD.


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