Search Blogs

Past Posts

Find out about all the exciting activities and meetings that the RSC Organic Division are involved in, including many local, national and international meetings, symposia and conferences on topics of interest to organic chemists.

You can visit our forum and join in the discussions to learn and share information relevant to those working in the field of organic chemistry in its broadest interpetation.

Organic Division Blog - if you would like to contribute news/reports that would be of interest to members of the Organic Division then please contact, Anne Horan.

Share this |

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linked More...

Latest Posts

I’ve become really interested in explaining science to the public over the past few years, so when I was offered the opportunity to recreate Perkin’s synthesis of mauveine and be the chemistry expert on-set for a BBC science series, I jumped at the chance. Filming was scheduled to take place in the week of my  viva, so racked with guilty thoughts about revision, I sidled back into the lab to produce the famous purple dye. The synthesis of mauveine itself isn’t too tricky, but is pretty time consuming and low-yielding. So it was with all fingers and toes crossed that I watched the potassium dichromate turn the straw-coloured mixture of anilines into a deep black sludge. Two soxhlet extractions followed (not seen since those hazy undergraduate days...), the first to remove the tar-like impurities, leaving straw-coloured needles. Nothing remotely purple was evident, and I was beginning to sweat a little...with a racing heart, I swapped the solvent to ethanol and began the second extraction. As the solvent began to boil and drip over, the most intense purple colour began to appear. I imagine I felt a little like Perkin, when washing his glassware after his ‘unsuccessful’ experiment.
Two days later, I was picked up from Imperial College at 6.30 armed with my tiny amount of black solid (that I had checked repeatedly produced a purple solution when re-dissolved in ethanol), loads of lab glassware and a stirrer hotplate. I even managed to take some of the fluorescent dichromate (tightly wrapped of course) for that TV wow-factor. On-set (an old warehouse on an industrial estate in North-West London), I was asked to set out the lab kit, and to make up some purple solutions using food dye. Satisfyingly, none of these were as brilliantly purple as the mauveine in ethanol. After a bit of waiting and tea-drinking, the presenter arrived...none other than Brian Cox himself. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a kick out of explaining the chemistry behind Perkin’s synthesis to him...
I’m yet to see the finished product – it will be aired at 9pm on BBC2 on 2nd October. The series so far has been brilliant, and this last episode promises not to fail us. It’s all about the serendipity of science - how the best discoveries come when we least expect them, with the story of mauveine as a shining example.

Alex Ferguson
National Cancer Research Institute and Member of Organic Division Council
Posted by Anne Horan on Sep 30, 2013 10:32 AM BST
The 5th Young Investigator Workshop of EuCheMS was held in Marseille, France. The meeting was a fantastic blend of science from all over Europe, as well as from farther afield. Selected early stage Investigators attended and presented a broad array of organic chemistry from new synthetic methodology and natural product synthesis, to the application of organic compounds to materials and medicine. While the quality of the talks was high throughout, selected European highlights for me included Syuzanna Harutyunyan’s (University of Groningen) development of 1,2-selective asymmetric copper catalysed addition chemistry, Mate Erdelyi’s (University of Gothenburg) fundamental study of 3 centre 4 electron bonding and Stellios Arseniyadis’ (CNRS, Paris) versatile palladium catalysed allylic alkylation of allyl dienol carbonates. There was good representation from chemical industry at the meeting too with talks on small molecule stem cell reprogramming (Laure Bouchez, Novartis), novel chemotype chemistry (Olivier Loiseleur, Syngenta) and process development work (Didier Schils, Jassen). Finally, invited international attendees from Israel, the USA and China reported a wonderful assortment of novel synthetic methodology, chemical biology and (photoresponsive) materials science.
 Group Photo from 5th Young Investigator Workshop of EuCheMS, Marseille, France, 2013

I would like to thank the Organic Division of the RSC for financial support to attend this meeting.
Matthew Fuchter
Imperial College London

Posted by Anne Horan on Jul 17, 2013 11:27 AM BST
Dear Colleagues,
The RSC is delighted to announce a fantastic bursary opportunity for PhD students/post docs to attend the Advanced School Bioorganic Chemistry taking place in Araraquara, Brazil, 30 June – 05 July 2013. The school includes talks and discussion sessions from highly qualified scientists (including Professor Steven V. Ley from the University of Cambridge) and leaders in the field covering bioorganic chemistry, involving aspects of natural products, medicinal chemistry, synthesis and spectroscopic methods.  The full programme can be viewed here:
FAPESP (Sao Paulo Research Foundation) have invited the RSC to select 2 UK students to participate in the meeting. The bursary will cover international and domestic transportation, hotel accommodation, meals, registration fee and welcome reception. To apply please complete the form which is available download here and at the end of this post. Return to by 19 April 2013 at 4pm.

Closing date for application is 4pm on 19 April 2013
For any queries please contact
Kind regards, Anne
Posted by Anne Horan on Apr 16, 2013 1:56 PM BST
On Thursday 20 September, the RSC welcomed Prof Johann de Bono, Deputy Director of the Drug Development Unit at the ICR,  to the Chemistry Centre in London. Johann led on the clinical development of abiraterone which is now a successful  treatment for prostate cancer. 
The keynote lecture – Transforming Prostate Cancer Care Through Chemistry - stressed the value of the ICR structure of having biologists, structural chemists, medicinal chemists, molecular pathologists and clinicians all working on one campus. This multidisciplinary team was crucial to success in developing a drug that is delivering some benefit to patients – CRUK set up drug discover programme. Prostate Cancer is the commonest cancer in men. In the UK, it is the second most common cause of male cancer death after lung cancer. One man dies in the UK every hour from the diease.

Following the lecture, there was a panel discussion - focussing on how discovery programmes such as the successful work that led to the discovery of Abiraterone could be repeated within the UK academic environment? Prof de Bono was joined by Dr Duncan Holmes (GlaxoSmithKline) and Prof Simon Ward (University of Sussex) on the panel and the discussion was chaired by Dr David Fox (RSC).
Posted by Anne Horan on Oct 17, 2012 10:24 AM BST
On 13 June 2012, the Chemistry Centre in London played host to Professors Akira Suzuki and Ei-ichi Negishi, who were recently made Honorary Fellows of the RSC. Speaking not only in front of a packed house, their lectures were also broadcast live on the Chemistry World website

Professor Suzuki (Hokkaido University) spoke about his inspiration for becoming a chemist. He started out studying maths, yet an organic chemistry textbook fascinated him so much that he switched subjects. He ended his talk by appealing to the audience to use his “Suzuki cross-coupling reaction” to make useful products; this would make him very happy!
Professor Negishi (Purdue University) spoke about “The Magical Power of Transition Metals”, arguing that transition metal catalysts are sustainable because they give selective products and can be reused many times. He was so passionate about his research that he could have spoken for hours!

The lectures ended with a pertinent question: “What is the most important issue that organic synthesis should be helping to solve?” Professor Negishi answered that climate change is the most pressing issue of our time, and organic chemists can help us meet this challenge by finding a way to catalytically convert carbon dioxide into something that won’t cause global warming. He even said that it is a project that he is personally working on... watch this space!
Posted by Anne Horan on Jun 28, 2012 4:05 PM BST
On the 30 March, and to a packed lecture theatre in the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London, Dr Chris Braddock welcomed the audience to Young Chemists 2012 (YC12).  This was the 10th annual meeting in the series that features lectures from young organic chemists who has been appointed to an academic position within the last five years. 
The meeting was sponsored by the Organic Division of the RSC and AstraZeneca, and registration was offered free of charge by MMS Conferencing & Events Ltd. 

The morning session featured lectures from Dr Ross Denton (Univ. Nottingham),  Dr Marc Kimber (Univ. Loughborough), Dr Jason Camp (Univ. Nottingham) and Dr Wesley Moran (Univ. Huddesfield). In the afternoon lectures were received from Dr Stephen Goldup (Queen Mary University), Dr Carmen Galan (Univ. Bristol), Dr Stephen Fletcher (Univ. Oxford) and Dr Stefan Howorka (University College London).   The chemistry presented ranged from catalytic phosphorous-based reactions, enantioselective desymmetrisation of endo-peroxides, 'sugar-powered' catalysis, hypervalent iodine asymmetric catalysis, the synthesis of 'small' rotaxanes, highly efficient glycoside synthesis, studies on retinaldehyde photoisomerisation and the structure of S-layer proteins. 

The finale was the plenary lecture from Professor Jim Anderson (University College London) featuring some 'imaginary' chemistry.  Dr Steve Wailes from Syngenta provided the closing remarks for the meeting.  All agreed that is was a superb day of Chemistry with science of the highest calibre. 
YC13 will be held at Imperial College London on the 26th April 2013.
Posted by Anne Horan on May 15, 2012 11:51 AM BST