Harran Research Group
Synthetic Organic Chemistry
Tell Me More

Research Interests

We study architectural aspects of building molecules. This is expressed through exercises in total synthesis, the development of reactions and processes, and in attempts to generally emulate small-molecule biosynthetic schemes. We seek to create new structures in new ways, and for those molecules to have valuable biological functions.

Bioactive Natural Products

Evolution provides chemists much inspiration and opportunity. We explore the synthesis of small molecule natural products, in particular those having special structures and potentially valuable pharmacology. Current interests include unusual antimicrobial trithiocanes isolated from a marine tunicate, complex prodigiosins that can bind microRNA, spirocyclic imines that initiate apoptosis selectively and various other exotic bioactive substances.

Read More

Molding Form and Character with Synthesis

The chemistry and biology of natural products is prominent in the group. We’re also involved in new tactics to create non-natural molecules – particularly those able to fuel discovery in areas of biochemistry where drug-like heterocycles and/or toxins can be limited. Specific and potent agonists/antagonists of intracellular protein-protein interactions are of particular interest.

Read More

Opportunities in Medicinal Chemistry

We interface our chemistry with biological research in numerous ways. We screen complex molecule collections in silico and experimentally, searching for new functions in cytokine signaling, stem cell differentiation, cell death regulation, and hormone mimicry. We also study the biology of specific compounds.

Read More

Group News


May 2021
Rupert Li receives the Pfizer - UCLA Dissertation Award for Excellence in Organic Synthesis as well as the Michael Jung Excellence in Teaching Award. The latter recognizes Rupert's exceptional work as a TA for graduate synthesis course Chem244B. Congratulations Rupert!

Evan Hurlow wins the Theodore A. Geissman Excellence in Research Award. Keep up the great work Evan!

Ishika Saha receives the Ralph and Charlene Bauer Award for outstanding research and service contributions. Bravo Ishika!

April 2021
Rupert, Anton and Brennan's study on the conjugate addition of 2-trimethylsiloxyfuran to trans-crotonaldehyde is published. Congratulations!
April 2021
Ishika Saha is one of eight 4th year PhD students chosen from labs around the country to participate in the 2021 Genentech Graduate Student Symposium in Chemical Research. Congratulations!
December 2020
Emily files her thesis and prepares for a new position at Eli Lilly. We'll miss you Emily!
November 2020
Evan and Morris' study on the photorearrangement of pyridinophane N-oxide is published. Congratulations!
October 2020
Our discovery that callyspongiolide is a potent inhibitor of the vacuolar ATPase is published. Congratulations Rupert!
September 2020
Ishika's computational study on composite peptidic macrocycles is published on Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA). Congratulations!
June 2020
Rupert won the John Stauffer Excellence in Research Award. Emily and Luke won the Michael E. Jung Excellence in Teaching Award. Congratulations!
June 2020
September 2020
Luke's studies on hybrid cyclopeptidyl sulfanes and composite macrobicyclic peptides are published. Well done Luke!