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Oct. 16, 2018 ACS Princeton section meeting

10 Oct 2018 9:08 AM | Dr. Keith D. Wing (Administrator)

Please join us on October 16 to recognize Clarissa Forneris and Kevin Speina, the 2018 winners of the Graduate Student Awards presented by Princeton ACS Section. 

Princeton ACS Meeting & Graduate Student Awards Seminar - Tuesday October 16, 2018

Frick Chemistry Laboratory, Princeton University - Mixer 5:30pm; Presentation 6:30pm; Dinner 7:45pm

Our speakers will be Clarissa Forneris and Kevin Speina:

Clarissa Forneris - "In Vitro Reconstitution of Native P450s Activities Enables Total Chemo-Enzymatic Syntheses of Vancomycin Aglycone Variants”

Abstract: Glycopeptide antibiotics (GPAs) are indispensible for the treatment of life-threatening infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria, especially methicillin-resistant S. aureus. The founding member of this antibiotic class, vancomycin, has been in clinical use since 1948 and, to this date, it is known as the drug of last resort. As inevitable resistance to current antibiotics spreads among pathogenic bacteria, it will be necessary to have a constant supply of new treatments to replace them. Synthetic derivatization of known natural products is the most successful way to create more potent antibiotics, but this approach has been restricted within the GPAs, due to their size and chemical complexity. Three post-translational modifications (PTMs) to the GPA core peptide provide functional shape and rigidity to the molecule. In vancomycin, two bisaryl ether crosslinks and a biaryl carbon-carbon bond are installed by the cytochrome P450 enzymes OxyB, OxyA and OxyC, in this order. It has been hypothesized that if the enzymatic activity of these enzymes could be reconstituted in vitro, a route to the facile synthesis of vancomycin and analogs would be opened. Our work toward achieving this goal will be described.

Biography: Clarissa is a 5th year graduate student in the group of Prof. Seyedsayamdost at Princeton University. She is a native of Brazil and moved to Cambridge, MA to carry out her undergraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she received a B.S. in Chemistry in 2013. While at MIT, she worked with Prof. Danheiser on synthetic applications of benzannulation reactions. During her graduate studies, she has developed a chemo-enzymatic strategy to synthesize vancomycin, the antibiotic of last resort, and its analogs.

Kevin Speina - "Towards Commodity Scale Production of Ketones Using a Resilient Fungal Heme Protein"

Abstract: The non-reactive nature of aliphatic C-H bonds makes catalytic oxyfunctionalization, under ambient conditions profoundly difficult. Overcoming this challenge has the potential of transforming low cost, abundant hydrocarbons (i.e. methane, cyclooctane) into low cost precursor molecules capable of derivatization; an industrially advantageous enterprise. Fortunately, nature evolved enzymatic catalysts able to perform oxygenation onto relatively inert C-H bonds. Cytochrome P450s (P450) are a class of monooxygenases that incorporate molecular oxygen onto aliphatic C-H bonds with remarkable regio and stereoselectivity. Within the P450 active site lies an iron protoporphyrin IX with a cysteinate axial ligand. Unfortunately, P450 enzymes require a prohibitively expensive cofactor NAD(P)H and reductases to perform C-H activation chemistry. A class of enzymes known as fungal aromatic peroxygenases (APOs) circumvents this limitation by using H202 as a co-substrate to perform C-H functionalization reactions. APO enzymes are stable, extracellular, glycosylated proteins that have no sequence homology to P450 analogs, yet have enhanced reactivity to P450 enzymes.. Our work with a recently identified APO from Marasmius rotula [MroAPO] will be described.

Biography: Kevin Speina is a graduate student in the at Princeton University, currently pursuing his PhD in bioinorganic chemistry.  He graduated from Manhattan College with a BS in Chemistry and minors in philosophy, religion, and mathematics.  His interest in green chemistry and entrepreneurship have kindled a passion for pursuing research and development; particularly focused on bringing products from lab bench to market.  He speaks Portuguese, Spanish, Polish and English and is now studying Chinese in order to negotiate with fellow entrepreneurs  and begin in  investing in the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.

Reservations: The meeting will be held in Frick Laboratory, Princeton University. The mixer will begin at 5:30 pm in the Taylor Commons. The lecture will be held in the Auditorium at 6:30 pm followed by dinner in CaFe area of Taylor Commons. Parking is available in Lot 21 or other lots along Ivy Lane (see The seminar is free and open to the public. Reservations are required for dinner, which is $20 ($10 for students). Please contact Louise Lawter at or 215-428-1475 by October 11 to make reservations. Reservations must be canceled no later than October 15 to avoid being billed for the dinner.

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