Jonathan Clayden and his research group work on the construction of molecules with defined shapes, and are particular interested in exploring and exploiting molecular conformation.
The shape of a molecule dictates its function, and understanding conformational effects allows us to make molecules that behave in specific ways. We use the understanding we gain from conformational studies to design and synthesise molecular communication devices that transmit information to remote reactive sites, and to make conformationally-defined molecules (foldamers) that mimic biological function. We also explore new classes of atropisomers for potential use as chiral ligands.
We have also discovered that the restricted conformation of planar functional groups such as amides and ureas endue them, and their anionic (especially organolithium) derivatives, with remarkable new reactive properties which we make use of in the synthesis of valuable, potentially bioactive and pharmaceutically seful, target molecules.
Jonathan Clayden is the author of the widely used textbook Organic Chemistry (Clayden, Greeves and Warren, 2nd edn. published OUP 2012) and the monograph Organolithiums: Selectivity for Synthesis (published Pergamon, 2002).
The Clayden research group has recently moved from the School of Chemistry at the University of Manchester to the School of Chemistry at the Univerisity of Bristol, where they occupy lab space in the Synthetic Chemistry Building. The Clayden group is associated with the Bristol Centre for Doctoral Training in Chemical Synthesis and with the BrisSynBio Centre for Research in Synthetic Biology.