Harran Research Group
Synthetic Organic Chemistry
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Group News

May 2024
Jerry Hsu and Gilbert Walker recieve the Michael E. Jung Excellence in Teaching Award, Alek Lotuzas recieves the John Stauffer Excellence in Second Year Research Award, Vanlinh Nguyen recieves the Susan Elizabeth Baumgarten Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and Ashely Michel recieves the Max Shaw Dunn Undergraduate Award at the 2024 Departmental Awards Ceremony. Congratulations everyone!
October 2023
The group shows their Halloween spirit in group meeting with some fantastic costumes!
June 2023
Morris Dweck and Angel Mendoza attend their Ph.D. graduation ceremony, where Morris recieved the Majeti-Alapati Dissertation Award and Angel recieved the Chemists Association Dissertation Award. Congratulations Morris and Angel!
June 2023
Alek Lotuzas, Gabriella Cooper, and Emma Greene recieve the Michael E. Jung Excellence in Teaching Award.
February 2023
Past and Present group members gather to celebrate the wedding of Morris and Sharon Dweck! Congratulations Morris!
December 2022
Going away party for Dr. Sal Bernardino. Best of luck at Eli Lilly Sal!
November 2022
Gabby Cooper delivers a masterful deparmental lecture on new aryl decarboxylation chemistry. Way to go, Gabby!
November 2022
Emma Greene delivers a beautiful deparmental lecture on new carbenoid chemistry. Way to go, Emma!
September 2022
The group celebrates Gilbert Walker passing his candidacy exam! Congratulations, Gilbert!
August 2022
Welcome to our summer rotation students Marcelo Mazariego and Matthew Danielson!
June 2022
Ishika Saha joins the computational chemistry group at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Evan Hurlow joins the process chemistry team at SnapDragon, Sal Bernardino accepts a medicinal chemistry position at Eli Lilly, and Anton El Khoury accepts a faculty teaching position at Contra Costa College.
June 2022
Anton, Sal, Ishika, Evan, and Emily attend their Ph.D. graduation ceremony. Congratulations, everyone!
May 2022
Morris Dweck receives the Ralph and Charlene Bauer Award for Teaching, Research and Service. Congratulations Morris!
April 2022
Rupert and Anton's paper on assembling Portimine precursor chains is published. Congratulations!
March 2022
Our brilliant colleague Anton is now a US citizen! May the road rise up to meet you, Anton.
January 2022
The group welcomes first year students Aleksandras Lotuzas, Gabriella Cooper, Emma Greene and Jacqueline Bustamante!
December 2021
Emily's paper on small molecule inhibitors of MBOAT4 is published. Congratulations!
November 2021
Evan Hurlow presents his work at the DOC Graduate Research Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Congratulations!
July 2021
June 2021
Sal was one of the 12 winners of the inaugural Merck Chemists of Color Award. Congratulations!
May 2021
Anton's study on PEGylated EGCG conjugates as Alzheimer’s tau disaggregants is published. Congratulations!
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!