Research Guides

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford

Professor Martin D. Smith

We are a synthetic organic chemistry group with wide-ranging interests in synthesis, structure and asymmetric catalysis.

Our research can be grouped into three main themes:

1. Total Synthesis:

We are interested in the synthesis of nitrogen-containing natural products as they comprise an important class of structurally complex pharmacologically active agents.

2. Foldamers:

We are interested in the design and synthesis of materials that populate well-defined secondary structures similar to those adopted by peptides and proteins. In this scenario, exploitation of the greater diversity made possible through design presents opportunities for the generation of bespoke secondary structural elements that may exhibit recognition and catalytic properties similar to natural biopolymers.

3. Asymmetric Catalysis:

We are engaged in the development of new catalysts for demanding asymmetric transformations. Our research in this area is showcased in two specific areas: the development of catalytic electrocyclization reactions and the development of catalysts that plagiarize some of the best features of natural catalytic materials.

Catalytic asymmetric electrocyclization: asymmetric synthesis of functionalized indolines, E. E. Maciver, S. Thompson & M. D Smith, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2009, 48, 9979-9982.


Plagiarizing proteins: enhancing efficiency in asymmetric hydrogen bonding catalysis through positive cooperativity,C. R. Jones, G. D. Pantos, A. J. Morrison & M. D Smith, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2009, 48, 7391-7394.


A nonpeptidic reverse-turn that promotes parallel sheet structure stabilized by C-H…O hydrogen bonds in a cyclopropane γ-peptide, C. R. Jones, M. K. N. Qureshi, F. R. Truscott, S.-Te D. Hsu, A. J. Morrison & M. D. Smith, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2008, 47, 7099-7102.


Bend-Ribbon Forming γ-Peptides, A. Kothari, M. K. N. Qureshi, E. Beck & M. D. Smith, Chem. Commun., 2007, 2814-2816.


Parallel sheet structure in cyclopropane γ-peptides stabilized by C-H…O hydrogen bonds, M. K. N. Qureshi & M. D. Smith, Chem. Commun., 2006, 5006-5008.