Held on 6 April 2023 at SPMS LT3, the inaugural IAS Distinguished Fellow Lecture was delivered by Prof Loh Teck Peng. He is NTU Distinguished University Professor from the School of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry (CCEB) and also the Founding Head of the Division of Chemistry and Biological Chemistry at NTU. A world-renowned scientist for his novel synthesis processes and green chemistry, he received the President’s Science Award 2018 for his outstanding research accomplishments in advancing organic chemistry and green chemistry that have far-reaching implications in fields such as pharmaceuticals and nanotechnology.
Prof Loh began his lecture by providing an overview of the history of organic synthesis, during which he highlighted the key contributions of several Nobel Prize Laureates, including Elias James Corey's concept of retrosynthesis, Victor Grignard's development of Grignard reagents, and the work of Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi, and Akira Suzuki on the development of cross-coupling reactions.
Prof Loh also shared the overview of his research interests over the years. Inspired by natural processes, his group’s main research objective is to develop synthetic methods that are green, practical and sustainable. In particular, he focused
on the development of water-based reactions. His research began with the study of organoindium reactions in water, Later, he sought to develop metal-free reactions such as reactions that are catalysed by organocatalysts and carbon-sulfur/carbon-nitrogen
bond formations in water.
In recent years, his group has shifted their research focus to application-based projects such as the development of self-healing materials, green synthesis of pharmaceutical drugs, the transformation of rice straws to platform chemicals, as well as the development of more potent pharmaceutical drugs. Prof Loh further elaborated that his team has developed several new click reagents that can target thiol and amino groups with high selectivity. These reagents can be used to modify thiol and amino functional groups in proteins and possibly develop new antibody-drug conjugates with high efficacy and potency.
Q&A session moderated by Prof Sum Tze Chien, Director of IAS NTU (to the right of Prof Loh Teck Peng).
During the interactive Q&A session, Prof Loh addressed several interesting questions on drug release mechanisms in cells, product yields in catalyst-free reactions, and the importance of interdisciplinary research to solve existing problems.
Overall, Prof Loh's lecture provided the audience with valuable insights and expertise in the field of organic synthesis and green chemistry.
Written by Jocelyn Khoo Yi Xin, PhD student (CCEB)
"Exciting perspective towards interdisciplinary research." - Meldon Wee Yi Shuo, PhD student (CCEB)
"I like Prof Loh's witty explanation." - Wei Yifei, PhD student (IGP)
"His personal notes on life e.g. just keep asking, or the anecdotes about his life as a researcher." - Ju JiYeon, Undergraduate (CCEB)