In the O’Duill group, we are interested in addressing current challenges in medicinal chemistry by developing novel reagents and methodology for the selective construction and destruction of difficult C–X bonds. Current projects include:

Ion channels are implicated in a multitude of diseases, including cystic fibrosis, neurological diseases and cancer. In collaboration with CÚRAM, the SFI research centre for medical devices, we are designing ion-responsive drug delivery platforms.

Deuteration of bioactive molecules is a crucial tool for biomolecular analysis techniques (neutron diffraction, 2D NMR, hydrogen exchange mass spectroscopy) and the pharmaceutical industry (ADME studies, deuterated drugs). A diverse toolkit of synthetic methods is necessary to selectively install deuterium isotopes in the molecules and positions of interest.

Super-electrophilic alkylating reagents: The development of less hazardous, more reactive alternatives to complement and extend the reactivity of currently known alkylating agents—especially for the late-stage functionalisation of lead compounds—is an exciting challenge.

Recycling perfluorinated compounds: Due to the great strength of the C—F bond, certain perfluorinated compounds are highly stable environmental pollutants that have been shown to be toxic to humans and are now listed under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Chemicals.

Our group’s goal is to address these challenges using catalytic methods. The interdisciplinary nature of our research projects would allow students to gain experience in synthetic organic, physical organic, organometallic, and fluorine chemistry, as well as related disciplines in and outside of chemistry.

We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), and NUI Galway.