Nicholas Race receives MIRA grant

Professor Nicholas Race has received a Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) General Medicine that brings in $1.9 million for five years to fund projects involving the use of the phenonium ion as a control element in synthesis.

The phenonium ion is an interesting reactive intermediate that is formed via neighboring group participation of an aromatic ring. It is often considered a nuisance and has received limited attention by the synthetic community. Professor Race's work seeks to explore new reactions involving the phenonium ion and use it to transform simple starting materials into complex products containing benzylic or homo-benzylic stereocenters. Preliminary work in this area was published earlier this year in Journal of the American Chemical Society, "Reagent Control Enables Selective and Regiodivergent Opening of Unsymmetrical Phenonium Ions."

Race's research projects are focussed on the development of new methodologies involving interesting reactive intermediates as key controlling elements for organic synthesis, with particular emphasis on atom- and redox-economic processes. Mechanistic investigation will closely accompany reaction development such that a deep understanding of the fundamental steps of the new (catalytic) process is acquired. It is anticipated that this mechanistic information will then, in turn, facilitate an expansion of the methodology in new directions.

Professor Race earned a Master's of Chemistry from the University of Oxford, and his doctorate from the University of Bristol. Before joining the Department of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota at an assistant professor in 2018, he was a post-doctoral associate at the University of Utah.