Understanding molecular recognition is central to many chemical processes such as in the development of drugs, receptors, sensors, catalysts and supramolecular materials. Over the years we have been particularly interested in designing molecular receptors for the purpose of separating, sensing, synthesizing or hydrolyzing biologically important compounds.
Some of our current interests include (a) cation and anion recognition, (b) chiral receptors and catalysts for stereoselective separation and synthesis of biological compounds like amino acids and other chemical intermediates, (c) stereoselective synthesis of 1,2-diamines, (d) DNA base recognition with metal complexes and (e) mono and multinuclear metal complexes for catalyzing the hydrolysis and synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins. While some of our projects may at first appear unrelated, understanding one is useful for understanding others. For example, understanding anion recognition is not only useful for sensing fluoride but also for DNA base recognition and nucleic acid cleavage. Developing efficient methodologies for chiral diamine synthesis (diaminopharm.com) is useful for making computationally designed novel catalysts. The first step of our projects typically involves the use of computational methods for designing organic and inorganic receptors (or sensors or catalysts). The second step involves the synthesis of the receptors and the final step involves testing of the receptors using physical organic and physical inorganic methods. Some of our studies have recently appeared on the covers of Chem Comm, Aldrichimica Acta and Angewandte Chemie.