Wed, 11 Oct 2023
Seminar Series

Dr. Jean-Philip Lumb

McGill University

Studying Biosynthetic Aerobic Oxidations under Redox Neutral Conditions: Recent Lessons from Lignan and Melanin Biosynthesis

Wednesday, October 11, 2023
SSB 7172 @ 3:30 p.m.

Host: Dr. Tim Storr



Aerobic oxidation is an inevitable consequence of life on earth that creates an evolutionary pressure to utilize molecular oxygen (O2). This pressure has led to a beautiful array of biosynthetic adaptations, which often create molecules or materials of exceptional complexity at the sole expense of consuming O2 and creating water (H2O). Inspired by nature’s use of O2, our group has studied biosynthetic aerobic oxidations catalyzed by metalloenzymes. This lecture will draw upon our studies of phenylpropanoid metabolism in plants that leads to highly oxidized, dibenzocyclooctadiene natural products. It will then turn to the aerobic polymerization of L-tyrosine that leads to melanin pigments in humans. While these two pathways are very different, we have found that by mimicking key steps under redox neutral, laboratory conditions, we can gain mechanistic insights that would be otherwise difficult to attain. This lecture will summarize these studies, and show how they can inspire new reaction design, with the ultimate goal of expanding the aerobic toolbox for use in organic synthesis.

Speaker Bio

Jean-Philip Lumb is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at McGill University in Canada. His group is interested in oxidation chemistry, and combines the themes of biomimicry and catalysis to address issues of sustainability in the production of functional organic molecules. The Lumb Group’s primary interests include the biosynthesis of melanin, tyrosinase-inspired aerobic copper catalysis, the total synthesis of natural products, and the mechanochemical activation of metals. The group also has an interest in the use of silicon in pharmaceutical research, with a particular emphasis on the development of tracers for positron emission tomography (PET). Professor Lumb obtained his B.A. from Cornell University in 2002. He then received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008 working with Dirk Trauner, before completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University with Barry Trost. He was awarded a 2018 Fessenden Professorship from McGill University, the 2019 Keith Fagnou Award from the Canadian Chemical Society and the 2023 X-Chem Research Excellence Award, also from the Canadian Chemical Society.