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Research:

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Our research involves the use of synthetic organic chemistry to shed light on questions in biology and medicine. In each research area the goal is to understand or manipulate a biological system, but the tools that we use are small to medium sized organic molecules designed for that purpose. We perform the syntheses of the needed molecular tools in our lab and often the preliminary biological experiments, although we also collaborate with people around the world who are experts in the biological systems.

Some projects of current interest in the group are listed below. Please click in the box for a more complete description.

Carbohydrates as drug delivery agents
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We have been working to developing a new strategy for delivering known, effective, biologically active agents to cells in the body that need them. The strategy is based on conjugation of the active agent to glycans that increase the water solubility of the agents while simultaneously improving their transport across cell membranes. We anticipate that, if successful, an important application of this strategy will be the delivery of anti-tumor agents to cancerous cells.

 
Electrochemically degradable polymers
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We are developing new polymer cross-linking agents that are electrochemically degradable. Polymers cross-linked by these compounds should be degradable upon electrical stimulation and thereby have broad applicability in a number of fields including drug delivery, microfluidics, and surgical materials.

 
Inositol-diamine-based ligands
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We have developed synthetic methods applicable to the preparation of optically pure inositol diamines. We are interested in determining if transition metal complexes with ligands prepared from these diamines might be useful as catalysts for enantioselective reactions.

Inositol phosphate glycans (IPGs) and diabetes
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IPGs have been suggested as possible second messengers of insulin action. We are interested in understanding how they work, determining which structures are most active, and evaluating the prospects for using IPGs or their analogues for the treatment of type II diabetes.

 
Oligonucleotides with unnatural backbones
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This project involves the design of new synthetic methods useful for the preparation of modified oligonucleotides potentially valuable as anti-sense therapeutics or RNA interference agents. Our strategy is to design a template-directed synthesis of such materials to greatly enhance the ease of their synthesis and therefore, their availability.

 

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Tufts University