Nine students, two faculty collaborate on publication about patent

Nine Ripon College students, along with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Patrick Willoughby and Associate Professor of Chemistry Joseph Scanlon, wrote about a pharmaceutical patent in the Oct. 13, 2016, issue of Tetrahedron, a leading scientific journal highlighting experimental research.

The students are: Robert N. Enright ’17, Jeffrey L. “JJ” Grinde ’17, Lincoln I. Wurtz ’17, Matthew S. Paeth ’17, Tekoa R. Wittman ’18, Emily R. Cliff ’17, Yessra T. Sankari ’16, Lucas T. Henningsen ’16 and Chuchen Tan ’16.

The patent is the accepted form of a provisional patent Willoughby and five of the students — Enright, Henningsen, Wurtz, Cliff and Grinde — created in 2015, which “describes a new process for making nitrogen-containing molecules that are relevant to the pharmaceutical industry.” Willoughby and his students came up with a new way for medicinal chemists to create the building blocks of pharmaceutical drugs. This opens the door for many scientific advances in medicine in the future in terms of both the creation of certain pharmaceuticals, as well as the effectiveness of those drugs.

“The patent demonstrates a useful strategy for medicinal chemists to make building blocks of pharmaceuticals, and Ripon College students used the strategy to make industrial precursors of the active ingredient in Azilect, used for treating early onset Parkinson’s disease, and Zyrtec, a popular antihistamine,” Willoughby says. “A larger team of students took the approach one step further and evaluated the scope of molecules we could potentially make, and, in collaboration with Joseph Scanlon, we elucidated details of how the chemicals interact at the molecular level.”

In writing about the patent in Tetrahedron, Willoughby, Scanlon and the nine student co-authors are spreading the knowledge of this scientific process to medicinal chemists on a larger scale. This also gave Ripon College students an opportunity to gain professional experience in both successful experimental research as well as the publication process that often follows, Willoughby says.

“It was very rewarding to publish the entire story as a full article and see students present portions of these studies at a number of American Chemical Society national conferences,” he says.

The abstract of the group’s article is available here.

Payton Blessing ’19
Eden Prairie, Minnesota

(Photo: Patrick Willoughby, left, and Joseph Scanlon)


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