The constant search for new chemical entities for the treatment of diseases necessitates the development of chemical synthesis methods that can enable access to new types of small molecules relevant to human health. Reaction discovery in the Li group is driven by the potential of non-traditional functional group transformations to revolutionize synthesis. Current efforts in our group are focused on developing strategies to enable “atom-swapping” reactions and other types of reactions that involve removing a carbon atom from the core structure of a molecule. The group is also exploring the catalytic enantioselective synthesis of molecules with planar chirality, a chiral element that is found in natural products but is under-utilized as a design element in the drug discovery process. The study of the conformational and configurational stability of these molecules will enable future rational design of planar chiral molecules for pharmaceutical purposes.
Junqi received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in chemistry from National University of Singapore. She completed her graduate studies with Professor Martin Burke at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2015, where she focused on developing a more systematized approach for automating small molecule synthesis via iterative coupling of MIDA boronate building blocks. She subsequently pursued her postdoctoral work under the joint supervision of Professors Dean Toste and Scott Miller at University of California, Berkeley and Yale University, working on enantio- and site-selective reactions with phosphoric acid catalysts. She will be joining the chemistry faculty at Iowa State University in August 2019.