Research in Synthetic Organic Chemistry

Uploaded by UniversityOfBristol on 23.03.2012

My name is Professor Varinder Aggarwal,
I'm Professor of Organic Chemistry, and I teach organic chemistry
at the undergraduate level.
I run a team of postgraduates and postdoctoral workers
in synthetic organic chemistry.
So every day, I will come into the lab and speak with my team
and see how things are going, see what experiments they've done,
what successes they've had and what problems they've had.
Together we'll try and come up
with some solutions to those problems that they've encountered.
I'll also spend part of my day trying to write up
those experiments and prepare publications
and that's an important part of what we do so we can tell the world
about some of the achievements we've made.
I work with a large international team
of students and postdocs from all over the world.
We basically work on organic synthesis
which is all about making complicated molecules, complex structures,
with precise shape and functionality
from simple building blocks.
What we do is we put these building blocks together
and then activate them in some way
so that they are attracted to each other
and when they're attracted to each other, bonds can form between them
and then we take that and then we do it again,
add another building block and so on.
It's a bit like trying to construct
the Taj Mahal - it's got minarets and domes and facades and courtyards.
And our goal is to try and make those molecules
in as short a number of steps as possible
because that uses up less resources,
creates less waste and is much more efficient.
Outside the lab, a lot of people are interested in creating molecules
with precise shape and functionality.
The whole pharmaceutical industry, the whole agrochemical industry
is based on that.
They have to target enzymes
and find molecules that will interact with enzymes
to stop bad processes happening
or to kick-start processes that are not happening.
We provide them the tools that enable them to go away
and create those molecules and without those tools,
we would not have the industries
that we have today - we wouldn't have the healthcare that we have today,
we wouldn't have the agrochemical industry -
that's helping to feed the world - that we have today.