Professor Romano Orru

Bio-Organic Synthesis

My main research interest focuses on sustainable synthetic method development employing cascade, domino (or tandem) processes. The methodology is applied to the diversity-oriented synthesis of small focused libraries of fine-chemicals with a high added value, like building blocks for medicines or ligands for catalysis. Novel multicomponent reactions (MCRs) and strategies for Diversity Oriented Synthesis, using simple starting materials to generate highly diverse libraries of functionalized small molecules in a single step are at the heart of this research. This approach is not only very efficient, versatile, and environmentally friendly, but importantly provides rapid access to key compounds for small molecular probes for chemical biology research, building blocks for medicines (APIs) or ligands for catalysis.
Both mechanistic aspects, stereochemistry using biocatalysis, optimization towards robust procedures and synthetic utility are studied in-depth and our chemistry proved successful for the synthesis of potentially biologically active molecules as well as ligands relevant to catalysis (N-heterocyclic carbene complexes, organocatalysts). A highlight of our research is a spectacular and unprecedented eight-component reaction (8-CR), reported as Hot Paper in Angewandte Chemie (2009) and highlighted in Nature. This work also received considerable attention from the public media (e.g. cover article in the national news-paper “Spits”).