Jeff Hansen: Stereoselective epoxidations
My research group works primarily in the area of organic synthesis. Specifically, we are investigating a tandem aldol/epoxidation reaction using sulfur ylides and related compounds. This reaction is highly stereoselective. This means that it constructs an organic molecule in a way that very specifically controls the three-dimensional arrangement of the atoms in the molecule. This kind of control is very important in the preparation of pharmaceutically active compounds. Currently our research is focused on testing the biological activity of the products from this reaction using a Brine Shrimp Lethality Assay. Additionally, we are developing the ability to use our aldol/epoxidation product to make a variety of interesting structures. These compounds can then also be tested for biological activity. This research involves typical organic synthesis techniques and usually anaerobic and anhydrous reaction conditions. We also hatch brine shrimp and expose them to various concentrations of our compounds to see how the shrimp respond. We have identified that our compounds have a significant level of toxicity to the brine shrimp. Other compounds with comparable activity have been shown to have therapeutic value.