Zhengnian Li was synthesizing an organic compound with a long name—2-(4-methylpiperazin-1-yl)-5-nitropyrimidine—when he noticed the concentrate in his flask looked suspiciously like a collection of nucleated cells. Li is a postdoc in Nathanael Gray’s lab at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and his team is interested in developing new small-molecule kinase inhibitors, compounds that are used sometimes to treat cancer. Li extracted his intermediate using ethyl acetate and dried, filtered, and concentrated it to achieve this tissuelike appearance. He can’t disclose his target molecule just yet but says it fits into his lab’s objectives very nicely.
Submitted by Zhengnian Li
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