Week 1: Introduction and First reactions

The first week of working in the lab has been useful in displaying the physical and mental challenges of lab work. I have been working in this lab throughout the year for about 4-7 hours per week. Shifting to working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in the lab has been a challenge but helpful in its own way. It has allowed me more time to learn the basics of the environment and develop my skills when running reactions. The first day consisted of training and prepping the lab for the week ahead. The next day, we jumped right in and started running reactions.

The reactions I was focused on were steps to help push the core pyrrolodiketopiperazine structure towards a naturally occurring product. I ran an aldol condensation with the pyrrolodiketopiperazine and benzaldehyde and it produced the structure depicted in Figure 1. This product is only a few steps away from a natural product called nannozinone B, which has some anticancer properties. While this reaction proved successful, the rest of the week was focused on running previous reactions in order to make more product of the core structure. This will allow me to use this material for future reactions leading to the synthesis of known natural products.week1 blog

The first step of the original procedure was run on two different starting materials. Two reductions were ran using Dibal to produced aldehydes that would be able to make the core structure. Both reactions were run on larger scales than previously done. The result was the expected product was made but the reaction did not run to completion. The product had some of the starting material still present which reduced the yield of the reaction. The aldol condensation, which is the next step, can still be performed but I need to take into account the amount of aldehyde actually in the product.

This next week I will continue to work with the old reactions to produced more useful products and characterize the developed molecules along the way. The mistakes and the successful reactions I had last week will be used to help me grow into my position for the summer. I have learned a lot in the first four days and I am looking forward to what this next week will hold.