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August 7, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 32


Letters to the editor

Organic chemistry symposium

Many thanks to C&EN and author Tien Nguyen for a very engaging and informative write-up on the National Organic Chemistry Symposium (July 24, page 16). From the summary, one could get a sense of the excitement at the meeting and the vibrancy of the field of organic chemistry.

I would like to comment on Martin Burke’s proposed Natural Producteome Project. The boronate chemistry developed by Burke is remarkable, but in my view, a “moon mission” to use it and other synthetic methods to synthesize a quarter of a million natural products is misguided. The proposal is essentially a technology utilization project rather than a scientific endeavor. If we wish to stimulate people’s imagination to what organic and inorganic synthesis can accomplish, it is best done in a hypothesis-driven exercise to understand how chemical structure can impart the desired properties in a molecule, whether we are seeking a new therapeutic agent or a material with novel mechanical, electronic, or optical properties. I think this will attract more funding, both public and private, than an exercise that allows chemists to “still get to do what they love.”

John M. Schaus
Iron River, Wis.

From the web

Re: Organic chemistry symposium

Readers responded to a question on social media of whether organic chemistry is “dead.”

Well, it may depend on your definition of organic chemistry. If it does not include anything related to metal or enzyme assisted reactions, then the statement may be true (I mean, pure carbon chemistry). However, if that is not the case, then the statement is completely wrong.
Luis Fernando Valdez via Facebook

It seems to me to be the Golden Age of Organic Chem.
Bruce Vorster via Facebook

There’s still so much to learn and discover in organic Chem. It’s crazy to think there isn’t anymore to discover. I feel like that’s the equivalent of going “yeah we see 8 planets in our solar system, might as well stop studying space!”
Kacey G. Ortiz via Facebook

There’s no research left to be done in organic chemistry. Organic synthesis isn’t about unraveling the secrets of the world at the molecular level, it’s more akin to engineering.
Zac Candelaria via Facebook

Exaggerated. It is a must know, must learn, applicable science. Cornerstones are foundational and never out of place.
Dawn’s (@Dawniewouldnt) via Twitter


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