The mission of the Department of Chemistry at TSRI is threefold: 1) to educate and train scientists in the chemical and biological sciences for the challenges of today and tomorrow, 2) to generate basic knowledge in the chemical and biological sciences on which applications to medicine, new materials and related areas may be founded, and 3) to connect fundamental discoveries through interdisciplinary programs and collaborations to biomedical and related applications.
The Department was created specifically to bridge the long-standing gap between biology and chemistry, offering a unique program that blends highly sophisticated synthetic chemistry, molecular design, and bioorganic chemistry. Thus, the power of synthetic organic chemistry combined with chemical principles is utilized in molecular design, chemical synthesis, and biological investigations of molecules with specific biological actions such as enzyme inhibitors, DNA cleaving molecules, and antitumor agents, as well as powerful chemical catalysts.
Biological concepts and tools are used to design and produce macro-molecules such as enzymes and catalytic antibodies, and exploit their value in mechanistic and molecular recognition studies. Examples include designing molecules with anticancer properties, anti-inflammatory agents, and powerful catalysts for chemical reactions.
A primary research focus in the Department is the study of bioorganic chemistry, a new and rapidly evolving branch of molecular biology concerned with the synthesis of small organic molecules of specific shapes. By selectively altering the active sites of different proteins, scientists can begin to engineer the configuration of key cell components. Ultimately, this will lead to the development of safer and more effective pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
Most of the important problems in biology and chemistry today require an interdisciplinary approach in their solutions that relate to the alteration of the structure/function of the cell components responsible for human disease. One of the great challenges is to describe the functions of proteins and other macromolecules as three-dimensional structures. As in any major scientific endeavor, success will be achieved by a cadre of highly skilled young scientists, schooled in an interdisciplinary approach to the solution of complex problems.
In 1990, TSRI launched a Graduate Program in Chemistry drawing upon the broad spectrum of expertise and strengths among TSRI's faculty in the related areas of chemical structure, molecular and cell biology, immunology, the neurosciences, and medicine.
The program emphasizes interactions in chemistry and biology and focuses on chemical synthesis, molecular design, and bioorganic chemistry. This highly interdisciplinary and interactive program offers an outstanding opportunity for young investigators to earn a Ph.D. in fields exceedingly relevant to the challenges of the 21st century. Graduate students are exposed to a body of knowledge and research, not only within the mainstream areas of chemistry, but also in related and emerging disciplines.