Award Lectures

CIC Award Lectures

Jon AbbattCIC Medal Sponsored by the Chemical Institute of Canada

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Jonathan Abbatt, University of Toronto

Abstract: Atmospheric Multiphase Chemistry:  From Stratospheric Ozone to Climate Impacts to Skin Oil Oxidation 
The majority of molecules in the atmosphere are gases with only relatively few present in the condensed phase, in aerosol particles or cloud droplets.  And yet, aerosols and clouds play a disproportionate role in important environmental phenomena, such as stratospheric ozone depletion, climate change, and urban air pollution.  The chemistry that occurs between the gaseous atmosphere and its condensed-phase components is referred to as atmospheric multiphase chemistry.  The goal of this talk is to demonstrate the importance of understanding this chemistry at a fundamental level, using examples taken from the atmospheric aging of wildfire emissions, urban air pollution, and the processes that control the chemical exposure we experience in the indoor environment. This field offers rich research opportunities for exploring the coupling of chemistry to various aspects of the earth system. 

Nola Etkin

CIC Award for Chemistry Education - Sponsored by the CIC Chemical Education Fund

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Nola Etkin, MCIC,  University of Prince Edward Island

Abstract: Teaching to, and From, the Rainbow

For over two decades I have been privileged to share my passion for organic chemistry with my students at the University of Prince Edward Island, and through my students I have learned how to be a better teacher, supervisor and mentor.

In this talk I will reflect on my evolving understanding of the needs of diverse students over the past two decades, and how I have modified my teaching practice to better respond to those needs - from how I convey content and model learning strategies, to how I evaluate and assess student learning.

I will also discuss how my identity as an out lesbian faculty member has impacted how I relate to my students in and out of the classroom, and how my own journey of acceptance and advocacy has been reflected in my teaching practice.

Christopher BarrettMacromolecular Science and Engineering Award - Sponsored by NOVA Chemicals Corporation

Nova Chemicals
Dwight S. Seferos, University of Toronto

Abstract: Advances in Polymers for Energy Storage Devices
Research in the Seferos group concerns the design, synthesis, characterization, and device engineering of organic materials for electronic and optical applications. The Seferos group has developed redox active polymers and organic frameworks. Some are based on biologically derived redox moieties, making them sustainable materials that have capacities that make them well-suited for organic lithium ion batteries. Other work has focused on porous, redox active materials that sequester ions into their channels and form robust and highly reversible electrodes. The synthesis, properties and applications of these materials will be discussed.

LennoxMontréal Medal Sponsored by the Chemical Institute of Canada

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Bruce Lennox, FCIC, Mcgill University 

Abstract: Still (Self) Assembling After All These Years
Molecular self assembly produces a vast array of nanoscale to macroscale structures. A number of the self assembled systems explored in our research, based on surfactants, lipids, polymers, and nanomaterials will be described. The resulting structures, including monolayer liposomes, 2D block copolymer micelles, bicelles, self assembled monolayers, and supported bilayer membranes will be discussed in the context of solutions to complex problems in enzymology, electrochemical biosensors, nanocomposite materials, and neuronal repair. The range and impact of these applications is however unforeseeable if only the structure of the building blocks and not their eventual self assembled structures are considered. But the metaphor of self assembly is not limited to molecules and nanomaterials. Indeed, assembling people into purposeful structures including organizations, societies, research centres, and institutes enables entirely new solutions to the many challenges encountered at the intersection of technology and society. Examples of some of these organizations and their ability to make impact will be described.

CGCEN Award Lecture

Laurel SchaferCanadian Green Chemistry and Engineering Network Award (Individual) - Sponsored by GreenCentre Canada

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Laurel L. Schafer, MCIC, The University of British Columbia

Abstract: Green Chemistry using N,O-Chelated Early Transition Metals. Using 3d Metals for Atom-Economic Catalysis
Synthetic approaches in Green Chemistry feature atom-economic catalysis with earth abundant metals, such as titanium. 1,3-N,O-chelated titanium complexes offer complementary approaches for the catalytic synthesis of selectively substituted amines and N-heterocycles by hydroamination and hydroaminoalkylation. These hydrofunctionalization reactions realize the atom-economic transformation of unactivated alkynes and alkenes directly into N-containing products of potential relevance to the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries. They can also be used for the green synthesis of N-functionalized, responsive materials from readily available building blocks. These transformations leverage the unique reactivity of 1,3-N,O-chelating ligands, developed in the Schafer group, as hemi-labile auxillary ligands that feature metal-ligand cooperativity in catalytic transformations. These ligands are pseudohalide ligands that offer the opportunity for steric and electronic tuning to target select reactivity trends. Advances in catalyst development to enhance both TOFs and TONs in the catalytic synthesis of amines will be presented. Furthermore, this ligand modified reactivity, coupled with the redox capability of the 3d transition metal vanadium, has resulted in the development of new catalytic systems for biomass conversion through the reductive coupling of alcohols. This recent advance highlights the largely unexplored opportunities for using early transition elements as catalysts for deoxygenative transformations of renewable, oxygen rich biomass. This award presentation will highlight several under-exploited opportunities for earth abundant, early transition metals to address industrially relevant research challenges in Green Chemistry.

CSC Award Lectures

Tomislav FriscicAward for Research Excellence in Materials Chemistry - Sponsored by the CIC Materials Chemistry Division  

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Curtis P. Berlinguette, MCIC, The University of British Columbia

Abstract: Ada: The World’s First Self-Driving Lab for Accelerating the Discovery and Optimization of Materials
New materials are notoriously slow to commercialize because the discovery and optimization process typically takes well over a decade. Self-driving laboratories that iteratively design, execute, and learn from experiments in a fully autonomous loop present an opportunity to accelerate this process. I will present here a self-driving modular robotic platform capable of optimizing thin films common to energy conversion, storage, and conservation technologies. This materials acceleration platform is capable of autonomously modulating the optical and electronic properties of thin films by modifying the film composition, deposition parameters, and annealing conditions. The platform is driven by a machine learning algorithm suitable for high-dimensional optimization. I will present case studies demonstrating the power of autonomous laboratories to discover organic and inorganic materials relevant to catalysis and clean energy technologies.

Frederick WestBernard Belleau Award - Sponsored by Paraza Pharma, Inc.

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Frederick G. West, The University of Alberta

Abstract: Small Molecule Solutions to Cisplatin Resistance and Ototoxicity
Human cells possess many complementary systems for repairing DNA damage. However, in the case of cancer treatment using DNA-damaging chemotherapy such as cisplatin, this machinery works against the goal of selective destruction of cancer cells. Tumor resistance mechanisms to DNA cross-linking agents often involve enhanced expression of the repair enzymes that target cross-links, including the heterodimeric protein ERCC1-XPF. This talk will describe recent efforts to develop small molecule inhibitors of ERCC1-XPF that work by disrupting the protein-protein interaction involved in heterodimerization, which is necessary for catalytically competent DNA repair activity. Evidence for synergistic activity with cross-linking agents and the regulatory protein p53 will also be discussed.

High-frequency hearing loss (ototoxicity) is a common and serious side-effect in childhood cancer patients treated with cisplatin. We have recently shown that the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signalling machinery is directly involved in the ototoxic response to cisplatin, and that the known TLR4 antagonist TAK242 suppresses release of inflammatory cytokines induced by cisplatin or lipopolysaccharide (LPS). A series of TAK242-inspired analogues will be discussed, including compounds that suppress cisplatin-mediated inflammatory signalling without affecting the LPS activation pathway.

Giuseppe MelaciniBiological and Medicinal Chemistry Lectureship Award - Sponsored by the Biological/Medicinal Chemistry Division and the Organic Chemistry Division

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Giuseppe Melacini, McMaster University

Abstract: Allosteric Regulation of Protein Kinases
The potential of protein kinases as drug targets for a wide range of diseases is now well established. However, targeting kinases directly through competitive inhibitors poses a major selectivity challenge, as kinase active sites are typically quite conserved. A promising alternative strategy to inhibit kinases with enhanced selectivity relies on allosteric modulation. Allosteric sites are often subject to lower evolutionary pressure compared to active sites and therefore are less conserved across the kinase superfamily. However, it is not fully understood how kinases integrate multiple concurrent allosteric signals and how the dynamics underlying allosteric regulation influences the potencies and efficacies of allosteric drug leads. We will present our attempts to answer these fundamental questions for prototypical kinases, such as the mammalian Protein Kinase A (PKA) or the Plasmodium falciparum Protein Kinase G (PKG), using a combination of NMR spectroscopy, simulations as well as enzymatic and binding assays.

Tim KellyCanadian Journal of Chemistry Best Paper Award - Sponsored by the Canadian Journal of Chemistry and Canadian Science Publishing (CSP)"

Canadian Journal of Chemistry    Canadian Science Publishing

Timothy L. Kelly, MCIC, University of Saskatechewan

Abstract: Organic Electronics: Materials and Morphologies
Organic electronic devices have the potential to be lightweight, colorful, flexible, and transparent, enabling them to be made in a wide variety of form factors and used for unique applications.  In this talk, I will discuss some of our research group’s recent efforts to both prepare new conjugated organic materials and better control and characterize film morphology. The talk will be split between our recent syntheses of new isoindigo-inspired materials and our work in the area of variable-pressure solvent vapor annealing.

Mary Anne WhiteCanadian Light Source TK Sham Award in Materials Chemistry - Sponsored by Canadian Light Source Inc., the Materials Chemistry Division and Western University, Department of Chemistry

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Mary Anne White, O.C, FCIC, Dalhousie University 

Abstract: Phase change materials for thermal energy storage?
About 40% of the world’s energy demand is used for heating, from buildings to hot water. Light from the sun can be converted to heat with about 90% efficiency. It is most efficient to store energy in the form in which it will be used. Therefore, solar thermal energy could be very useful if a reasonable solution to the storage problem can be found. All materials store energy based on their heat capacity (sensible heat storage), but the volumetric or gravimetric energy storage density is greatly increased by using a material that changes phase (e.g., melting). Such phase change materials (PCMs) have considerable promise for storage of solar thermal energy, and waste heat, for later recovery and use. The history and prospects of phase change materials for energy storage will be presented, along with insights into current challenges and recent research from our laboratory.

Kathleen ProsserCCUCC Chemistry Doctoral Award - Sponsored by the Canadian Council of University Chemistry Chairs (CCUCC)

Kathleen E. Prosser, MCIC, University of California, San Diego

Abstract: Magnetic resonance methods for the discovery of copper metallodrugs and metalloprotein targeting agents
The development of novel anticancer agents requires an understanding of their behaviour in complex biological environments. When studying metal complexes their stability in biological media, such as aqueous solutions and human serum, can be difficult to ascertain when subtle changes in coordination states, redox status, or geometry can be challenging to differentiate and analyze. In the case of proposed copper chemotherapeutics, typically prepared in the 2+ oxidation state with S = ½, their paramagnetism makes the application of traditional nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods problematic while also providing the opportunity to use electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR). EPR is the established tool for the study of paramagnetic systems, but the breadth and depth of information attainable from EPR spectra is often overlooked compared to NMR spectra. We have developed 19F-tagged Cu(II) based theranostics that are sensitive to the redox state of their environment, providing diagnostic information while also exhibiting hypoxia selective cytotoxicity. Changes in oxidation states can be observed through magnetic resonance techniques such as 19F NMR and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in addition to EPR. The most active compound, the nitro-derivative CuLNO2, was further studied using room-temperature and frozen solution EPR experiments, allowing the determination of relevant interactions with biomolecules such human serum albumin and nucleosides, as well as reactivity with appropriate reducing agents. Overall, we have used these techniques to establish the suitability of these copper(II) compounds as 19F-tagged redox-active anticancer theranostic.

Beyond the discovery of theranostic molecules, 19F NMR has been of increasing relevance to the organic medicinal chemistry community. 19F NMR is used to characterize the large number of fluorine-containing therapeutics and is also being used to screen fluorine-containing fragment libraries for inhibitor development. Despite the dozens of fluorinated fragment libraries that have been prepared none have been designed for the study of metalloproteins. To address this issue, we have developed a 19F library of metal-binding pharmacophores (MBPs) that can be screened against a metalloprotein of interest to identify the ideal MBP motif. The library was validated by screening against human carbonic anhydrase (hCA), and the further exploration of the bioinorganic applications of this library was undertaken through screening of the Co(II) analogue of hCA. 

Alison ThompsonClara Benson Award - Sponsored by the Canadian Council of University Chemistry Chairs (CCUCC)

Alison Thompson, MCIC, Dalhousie University

Abstract: Synthetic routes towards pyrrole-containing photoactive species
The pyrrolic moiety is central to life courtesy of its role in heme and chlorophyll. Applications of (poly)pyrroles span materials, pharmaceuticals and catalysis. Despite these accolades, the electron-rich nature of the pyrrole heterocycle continues to bring unique challenges to controlling reactivity and building complexity. Progress towards the preparation of stable dipyrroles will be shared, focusing on sulfur-linked species. Furthermore, emerging methods by which to synthetically manipulate aza-BODIPYs will be discussed with the goal of providing practical and efficient routes to photoactive species with tunable and robust physical and electronic properties.

IntelliSyn RD Research Excellence Award 2019 - Sponsored by IntelliSyn RD

IntelliSyn RD

Chris Boddy, MCIC, Univeristy of Ottawa 

Abstract: Armeniaspirols, A new class of Gram-positive antibiotics that target Clp proteases

The emergence of multi-drug resistant bacteria in the clinic presents major challenges to managing human health and threatens the great progress that has been made in preventing morbidity and mortality in the age of antibiotics. In order to combat these pathogens, new antibiotics with diverse mechanisms of action are required. Armeniaspirols represent a novel class of natural product-based bacteriostatic antibiotics with an unknown mechanisms of action. In this talk we will disclose the mechanism of action of armeniaspirol.  Using total synthesis, analogs of armeniaspirol were synthesized and their antibiotic properties examined. A combination of chemoproteomics, quantitative proteomics, and a battery of functional assays were used to discover that aremeniaspirols directly inhibit the AAA+ proteases ClpYQ and ClpXP, leading to dysregulation of the divisome and ultimately antibiotic activity. Our in vitro biochemical results were validated by in vivo by comparisons with genetic knockouts. Sub-lethal antibiotic challenges further suggested that the development of resistance to aremiaspirol inhibition of ClpYQ and ClpXP is difficult to achieve without negative consequences for the bacteria, thus resistance does not readily arrise.  Synthesis of a battery of armeniaspirol analogs, followed by characterization of their biochemical activity against Clp proteases as well as minimum inhibitor and bactericidal concentrations against multidrug resistant Staphylococcus aureus has enabled the discovery of analogs with significantly enhanced potency and bactericidal activity without detectable toxicity to mammalian cells.  Lastly, we show through characterization of the armeniaspirol biosynthetic pathway that an advanced, though structurally distinct biosynthetic precursor is also highly antibiotic. Intriguingly, it appears to inhibit a different target, providing a snapshot of how complex biosynthetic pathways may evolve.  The armeniaspirols thus represent an important new scaffold to combat multi-drug resistant bacterial infections, through a potent and highly novel mechanism of action, and provide a rich avenue for studying the evolution of complex bioactive natural products.

Roger Linington

IntelliSyn RD Research Excellence Award 2020 - Sponsored by IntelliSyn RD

IntelliSyn RD

Roger G. Linington, Simon Fraser University

Abstract: ResistoMAP: A Novel Discovery Platform to Target Collateral Sensitivity in Drug-Resistant E. coli
The Linington laboratory studies microbial natural products chemistry with the central objective of identifying compounds with unique value in human health applications. To accomplish this objective, we have developed new tools and technologies in both chemical and biological characterization of natural product libraries. In the area of chemical characterization, we have developed a new untargeted metabolomics acquisition and data processing platform designed to accurately describe the chemical constitution of natural products libraries. This tool set is complemented by a new open access database describing the known chemical space from microbial natural products ( In the area of biological characterization we have created a suite of phenotypic profiling assays designed to broadly capture the biological landscape of natural products libraries in specific target areas. 

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) represents one of the most serious emerging threats to global health. To address this critical issue, novel strategies are required to combat drug resistant infections. It has been established that incorporation and maintenance of drug resistance mechanisms in bacterial pathogens often confers a fitness cost to the organism. These fitness costs represent a potential reservoir of new targets for AMR therapies. 

Using the automation capabilities of the Center for High-Throughput Chemical Biology at Simon Fraser University we have developed a new high-throughput screening platform, termed ResistoMAP, to identify collateral sensitivities in drug-resistant pathogens. Using a panel of 29 clonal strains of E. coli, each of which contains a different drug resistance mechanism, we have screened a 10,000-member natural products library to identify compounds with selective activities against drug-resistant strains. In conjunction with our newly developed natural products metabolomics discovery suite we have used the ResistoMAP platform to identify compounds with unique antimicrobial properties against drug-resistant E. coli.

Mark LautensE.W.R. Steacie Award - Sponsored by the E.W.R. Steacie Endowment Fund, supported by the CSC Board and some Divisions of the CSC and CIC


Mark Lautens, MCIC, University of Toronto

Abstract: A Scientific Lifetime of Making, Breaking and Modifying Heterocycles
Our interests in are developing better ways to make bioactive molecules using novel strategies based on metal catalysis. By coincidence or design, we have often worked with heterocycles. This presentation will describe our recent efforts in this area.

We have been exploring the synthetic potential associated with reversible oxidative addition into carbon-halogen bond and recently developed Pd catalyzed carboiodination and hydrohalogenation reactions. We have recently demonstrated that Ni offers some unique advantages over Pd leading to novel heterocycle ring-forming reactions.

Copper mediated reactions are also of increasing interest and we have developed several asymmetric copper mediated borylations leading to heterocycles. (6-8).  Recent results will be presented.

Jennifer ChenFred Beamish Award 2019- Sponsored by the CIC Analytical Chemistry Division

Jennifer I-Ling Chen, MCIC, York University

Abstract: Sensing with plasmonics

Label-free sensing is desirable for a range of chemical and biological analyses. Portable, economical and easy-to-use sensors are sought-after for point-of-care diagnostics and field detection. On the other hand, accessible bioanalytical tools that provide high sensitivity and multiplexing capability with minute sample size are invaluable for advancing the knowledge of biomarkers and diseases. In this talk I highlight my group’s work on exploring plasmonic nanomaterials for label-free sensing. Plasmonic nanostructures exhibit localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) phenomenon that gives rise to their strong optical extinction properties. The sensitivity of LSPR to refractive-index changes, size and shape of nanostructures, and interparticle coupling have led to our inception of several unconventional sensing concepts; they include morphological changes of anisotropic Ag nanoparticles for the colorimetric detection of small molecules and pathogens, and discrete reconfigurable Au nanoparticle assemblies for the analysis of biomarkers at the single-cell level and in the microenvironment. I will discuss the specificity, versatility and detection range of the sensors and their potential for various applications. By understanding the chemistry of materials and differences of biological interactions on nanostructured surfaces compared to in solution, our work helps guide future developments of bioenabled nanomaterials in analytical science.

Edward GrantJohn C. Polyani Award - Sponsored by the Physical, Theoretical and Computational Chemistry Division, University of Toronto Department of Chemistry and Xerox Canada  

 CIC    University of Toronto Chemistry Department   xerox

Edward R. Grant, MCIC, The University of British Columbia

Abstract The quantum disordered dynamics of a molecular ultracold plasma
Theory points to conditions under which a disordered quantum many-body system can avoid decoherence, preserve spatial order and localize energy. A small number of highly engineered experiments probing the dynamics of ultracold atoms appear to confirm non-ergodicity as a principle in interacting many-body systems held in optical lattices. Such systems have been proposed as analog quantum simulators, or as protected regimes in which to embed atomic or molecular qubits, with perhaps great significance for the field of quantum materials. Here, we look to the quantum mechanical character of the arrested state formed by a quenched ultracold molecular plasma. This novel class of system arises spontaneously, without the deliberate engineering of interactions, and evolves naturally from state-specified initial conditions to a long-lived final state of canonical density, in a process that conflicts with classical notions of plasma dissipation and neutral dissociation. We take information from elementary theoretical models and experimental observations to develop a conceptual argument that attempts to explain this state of arrested relaxation in terms of a minimal picture of randomly interacting dipoles of random energies. This model of the plasma forms a starting point to describe its observed absence of relaxation as a form of localization. A large number of accessible Rydberg and excitonic states gives rise to an unconventional web of many-body interactions that vastly exceeds the complexity of quantum optics in a conventional few-level scheme. This experimental platform thus opens an avenue for the coupling of dipoles in disordered environments that will demand the development of new theoretical tools.

Fiorenzo VetroneKeith Laidler Award - Sponsored by the Physical, Theoretical and Computational Chemistry Division

Fiorenzo Vetrone, INRS, Université du Québec

Abstract: Rare Earth Doped Nanoparticles: Synthesis, Luminescence and Applications in Theranostics
Since approximately the year 2000, rare earth doped nanoparticles have received significant attention due to their interesting luminescent properties. At the core of this interest is their ability to convert near-infrared excitation light (typically 980 or 800 nm) to higher energies spanning the ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared regions of the spectrum through a multiphoton process known as upconversion. Upconversion differs from conventional multiphoton excitation in other materials where no real intermediate states are present necessitating the use of ultrafast lasers (in the femtosecond regime) for simultaneous excitation to the upper emitting state. The rare earth ions possess a multitude of 4f electronic energy states that have long lifetimes (micro- to millisecond) thus act as population reservoirs in the upconversion process. Hence, upconversion occurs through real, long-lived intermediate states through a sequential photon absorption process. This eliminates the need for ultrafast excitation and as a result, upconversion can be observed using inexpensive, continuous wave diode lasers. Upconversion luminescence can be exploited for a number of applications in nanomedicine, theranostics, photovoltaics, photocatalysis, as well as many others.

While their upconversion luminescence has been studied in great detail, rare earth doped nanoparticles can also emit in the near-infrared through a direct Stokes (down-shifted) luminescence process. Of particular importance is that these near-infrared emissions lie within the biological windows where biological tissues are optically transparent. For obvious reasons, a great deal of the work on the nanomedicine and theranostics applications of rare earth doped nanoparticles has shifted to their near-infrared luminescence properties. In this presentation, we will demonstrate the synthesis of these nanoparticles, establish how changing their nanoscale architecture can affect their luminescence properties (both upconversion and near-infrared), and discuss their potential applications, particularly in nanomedicine and theranostics.

John HeadleyRicardo Aroca Award - Sponsored by the University of Windsor

Xing-Fang Li, FCIC, University of Alberta

Abstract: Analytical Advances Enabling Studies of Drinking Water Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs)
The most effective means for preventing waterborne infection is drinking water disinfection. However, the very disinfection processes that kill microorganisms also produce a variety of disinfection by-products (DBPs). These chemical compounds are formed as by-products from reactions between the disinfectants (e.g., chlorine) and the natural organic matter in water. Human population studies conducted in several countries have consistently shown an increased risk of bladder cancer associated with consumption of drinking water disinfected by chlorine. However, analytical limitations prevented these earlier studies from measuring or identifying the actual DBPs in drinking water. Thus, the exact DBPs in the disinfected water that contribute to the increased bladder cancer risk are not known. Faced with tremendous challenges and knowledge gaps, regulatory agencies (e.g. Health Canada) can only regulate a few DBPs that are easy to measure. To find the real culprit(s) from the unknowns, we have focused on the development of ultra-sensitive analytical techniques to discover new DBPs of health importance. These techniques take advantage of specific pre-concentration, efficient chromatographic separation, and highly sensitive mass spectrometry detection. Our analytical technologies enabled the discovery of several highly toxic compounds (nitrosamines and haloquinones) as new DBPs in drinking water.

Deryn FoggRio Tinto Award - Sponsored by Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto
Deryn Fogg, FCIC, University of Ottawa

Abstract: Activation and Deactivation: Frontiers in Olefin Metathesis
Olefin metathesis, long recognized for its exceptional versatility in the catalytic assembly of carbon-carbon bonds, is now beginning to see uptake into pharmaceutical manufacturing (1). This critical context, anticipated 15 years ago by the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, presents challenges that reveal new frontiers for advance. Emerging synthetic and catalytic opportunities associated with N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) and cyclic alkyl aminocarbene (CAAC) catalysts will be discussed, with a perspective on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Central to recent advances are strategies that impede undesired activation events.

Masad DamhaR. U. Lemieux Award - Sponsored by Gilead Alberta ULC
Masad J. Damha, FCIC, McGill University

Abstract: Applying the chemist’s toolbox to gene silencing and gene editing technologies
Nucleic Acid therapeutics are undergoing a golden age, with several FDA approved drugs and many more in clinical trials. Chemical modifications of nucleic acids has been key to this development as they enhance properties such as binding affinity, bioavailability and nuclease resistance. This presentation aims to highlight how chemical modification allow us to establish guidelines for a broad set of oligonucleotide therapeutic applications including antisense, siRNAs, and CRISPR-Cas9/Cpf1 gene editing technologies.

The first part of my talk will provide an overview of recent and past work in my laboratory and those of collaborators concerning the properties of oligonucleotide (ONs) analogues containing modifications in their sugar phosphate backbone. Among these are the 'old' (2'F-ANA, 2'F-RNA, LNA, 2'-5'-linked RNA) and the 'new' (2',4'-disubstituted NAs, oxepane NAs (ONA),) nucleic acids. Emphasis will be placed on design, synthesis and conformational analysis. Several of the modifications studied benefit from retention of an A- or B-form helical conformation that can be exploited in gene silencing (and editing) activity against reporter and endogenous genes, as well as in structural studies of DNA and RNA structures. I will also describe new ways of combining sugar structures that provide novel oligonucleotide therapeutic candidates for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) treatment. My talk will also highlight how nucleic acid analogues are useful to study CRISPR-Cas9 systems and to uncover biochemical rules required for activating and inhibiting gene editing in vivo. Lastly, i will summarize our recent efforts towards the mechanochemical synthesis of DNA and RNA oligonucleotides. This lecture is dedicated to my present and past graduate, postdoctoral, undergraduate students ( and my collaborators (Annemieke Aartsma, David Corey, Tomislav Friscic, Keith Gagnon, Carlos González, Anastasia Khvorova, and Mark Somoza). They have made my work and academic life so much enjoyable. Over the past 10 years, funding was received mainly from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), a Fessenden professorship, and the McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative (MSSI).

Joe GilroyStrem Chemicals Award for Pure or Applied Inorganic Chemistry - Sponsored by Strem Chemicals, Inc.
Strem Chemicals
Joe B. Gilroy, MCIC, The University of Western Ontario

Abstract: Leveraging Main Group Chemistry for the Design of Functional Materials
Since 2012, my research group has conducted exploratory, collaborative research surrounding the synthesis, characterization, and application of molecular and polymeric materials that take advantage of the often beneficial electronic properties and reactivity of group 13, 14, and 15 elements. This talk will highlight the achievements of past and present trainees in two primary areas: i) The chemistry of metal-containing polymers and their conversion to metal-rich nanomaterials where phosphorus is used as a scaffold for the incorporation of up to three different transition metals per repeating unit. ii) The main group chemistry of redox-active formazanate ligands and the utility of the resulting complexes as fluorescent dyes (w/ boron) and in the production of stable radicals (w/ boron, silicon, germanium, and tin). The nitrogen-rich formazanate backbone lowers the energy of the frontier orbitals involved and provides a platform for investigative reaction chemistry in the absence of appreciable steric bulk. The evolution from our initial findings to our current research will be described.

Alexandre BroloW. A. E. McBryde Medal - Sponsored by AB Sciex

Alexandre G. Brolo, MCIC, University of Victoria

Abstract: Teaching Optical Spectroscopy and Colorimetry Using Cell Phones
Spectroscopic methods are important tools for both qualitative and quantitative chemical analysis. Traditionally, experiments and demonstrations in this area required the use of spectrometers and spectrographs that can be bulky and expensive. However, cell phones are now ubiquitously in modern society and all of them carries a high-resolution CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) camera. Therefore, it is relatively easy to take advantage of that camera as a detector and transform a cell phone in a simple spectrometer. It is also possible to analyze the image (for instance, the RGB (red-green-blue) pattern) and related that information to the concentration at the sample of interest. There are also several examples of applications of cell phones-based spectrometers in education and research.

In this presentation, we will discuss the use of a low-cost foldable cardboard spectrometer (from as a tool for demonstrations and experiments in an analytical course. Examples will include demonstrations of atomic emission (flame test), fluorescence and absorption spectroscopy. The use of imaging analysis for quantification will also be discussed.