Dr. Tom Driver’s research focuses on developing new catalytic transformations that unlock and harness the reactivity embedded in nitro-groups, anilines and azides to enable the synthesis of challenging N-heterocycles. Because N-heterocycles are ubiquitous in bioactive molecules, simplifying access to them is essential for the advancement of biological and medicinal studies.
During his independent career at the University of Illinois at Chicago, his research group had established aryl- and vinyl azides as useful nitrene precursors in metal-catalyzed N-atom transfer processes, and their discoveries of new reactivity patterns of metal N-aryl nitrenes have positioned them to establish them as a general phenomenon that is exhibited by nitroarenes, anilines and N-tosylhydrazones to streamline the synthesis of complex, functionalized molecules.
His research group participates in the UICentre for Drug Discovery, a collaborative effort with the Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine, for the identification, synthesis and optimization of novel small molecule therapeutics. As the chemical library core leader, Dr. Driver works with his colleagues in Chemistry to organize their novel heterocycles into libraries for high throughput screening by UICentre.