Rui Zhang: My Next Great Impossible

Rui Zhang

Rui Zhang is a chemist working on his Ph.D. in organic synthesis at the University of Chicago. He told us about the importance of a good advisor and seeing every result as a learning opportunity.

I am working on developing new methods for organic synthesis. Currently, we are focusing on the activation of inert C‒C bonds and their subsequent transformations. Compared with other C‒X bonds, C‒C bonds are prevalent in organic molecules, and their activation remains underdeveloped. New modes of C‒C bond activation could lead to brand new reaction pathways and potentially change current organic synthesis strategies.

“We can discover new chemical reactions resulting in more sustainable synthetic processes…”

The development of truly sustainable ways to produce pharmaceuticals and make them accessible to all human beings relies on the discovery of new and more efficient synthetic methodologies. By testing new, shorter and more creative disconnections, one can discover new chemical reactions which will result in much more sustainable synthetic processes.

“I’m inspired by this chance to sail through the uncharted territories of organic synthesis…”

During our studies, we have shortened the preparation of several bioactive natural products that have the potential to be used in the pharmaceutical industry, through the development of new reaction methodologies.

I’m inspired by this chance to sail through the uncharted territories of organic synthesis and unlock new knowledge that was previously inaccessible.


Q: What kind of mindset do you need to achieve your Next Great Impossible?

A: Keep your mind open to the possibility of doing things that are thought to be impossible - this is essential for progress towards true sustainability.

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