Center will focus on the quick synthesis of small molecules.

Scientists from the three Chicago universities will establish the Chicago Tri-Institutional Center for Chemical Methods and Library Development with a $9.2 million grant from the NIH. In support of the initiative, the Chicago Biomedical Consortium has awarded a $2 million Lever grant to support the infrastructure of the center and to make its resources available to the entire Chicago scientific community.

The University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago will set up the center at the Searle Chemistry Laboratory on the University of Chicago campus will synthesize small molecules. The aim is to produce them 10 times as rapidly as when University of Chicago chemist Sergey Kozmin, Ph.D., and director of the new center used parallel organic synthesis to build 3,000 new molecules while searching for anticancer compounds.

The chemical libraries that the Chicago Tri-Institutional Center produces will be readily available to biology labs across the nation. The center also will broadly test for potential use against neurodegenerative disorders, infectious diseases, and other therapeutic targets.

The center will seek to address problems in a collaborative environment, according to Dr. Kozmin. “Each of these groups has expertise in different areas of organic chemistry. The idea is to combine this intellectual effort in order to produce these new molecules much more efficiently than anything that has been done before.”

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