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Assistant Professor Courtney Roberts awarded $1.9M grant for catalysis research

Research has applications on important pharmaceutical synthesis problems

Dec. 11, 2022

The Roberts Group, led by University of Minnesota Twin Cities Assistant Professor Courtney Roberts, has been awarded a Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for its continuing catalysis research in the area of aryne difunctionalization reactivity, which has important applications in the pharmaceutical industry.

The award of $1,874,339 will be distributed over five years. 

“This project aims to solve numerous challenges in aryne difunctionalization en route to highly decorated arene rings, critical components of most pharmaceuticals,” said Roberts, a faculty member in the University of Minnesota Department of Chemistry.

“Our group aims to overcome all of these challenges by using transition metal catalysis to expand the scope and utility of aryne difunctionalization,” she added.

The NIH review panel for the proposal highlighted the group’s “invariably novel” ideas and efforts, noting that the chemistry supported by the grant will “represent transformational work in the area of aryne chemistry, with potential impacts on organic synthesis being immediate and far-reaching.” 

Founded in 2019, the Roberts Group is made up of 11 graduate students.

“I am incredibly proud of the team and their ability to come together during the pandemic and generate exciting preliminary data that ultimately led to funding from the NIH.”

Read the full story on the Department of Chemistry website.