June 28, 2019, by Mei Kee Lee

20th Tetrahedron Symposium

The Tetrahedron Symposium is held annually and it is the latest in a series of symposia organized by Elsevier in association with the Tetrahedron Group of journals. This year’s symposium is the 20th edition and it took place at the Swissotel Bangkok Ratchada in Bangkok, Thailand from 18th to 21th June 2019. I was honoured to receive a travel grant awarded by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) to fund this trip. This trip would not happen without the funding from this grant. The RSC Travel Grant is used to subsidize expenses (including cost of registration, accommodation, meals and cost of travel) of the applicants when attending local or international conferences/symposiums.

The symposium consisted of a series of lectures delivered by distinguished speakers pioneering in their respective fields. A total of 21 oral presentations were held throughout the symposium and three of all the lectures that have attracted my interest include ‘Nature’s Medicine Chest: Opportunities for Synthesis’ by Margaret Brimble, ‘Innovation at MSD for the Synthesis of Complex Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients’ by Rebecca Ruck and ‘Chemical Synthesis of Secondary Metabolites’ by Ryan Shenvi. Essentially, these three talks stressed the importance of chemical synthesis and molecules from nature on the drug development process.

The lectures were followed by poster presentation sessions where almost 200 posters were presented across two days of the whole conference. There were presenters from many different countries such as China, India, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom, showcasing their latest research work on posters. The research themes of the posters ranged from natural product chemistry to synthesis and biological evaluation of novel compounds in drug discovery.

This conference has been beneficial to me in two ways. The first would be the exposure to latest knowledge in the area of interests. I was intrigued by cutting-edge research talks given by these prestigious speakers. All these talks have broadened my knowledge particularly in drug discovery where numerous natural products that I have never heard of serve as inspiration for drug development to treat particular diseases. Another important message that I received from this conference is the importance of chemistry in driving the development progress of biology.

The second benefit would be the exchange of ideas through networking sessions with other researchers. Other than invited lectures, I also gained an insight on research work done by other researchers across the globe via their poster presentations. Personally, I am interested in research on natural product isolations, total syntheses and structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies of compounds. I had the chance to interact with researchers who work on these projects where I could possibly integrate some of their ideas in working on my project. For example, in my poster presentation, I received valuable feedback on possible yield optimizations for few of my reactions in the total syntheses of the natural products. Another example would be suggestions on further structural and biological investigations for the SAR studies of natural products in my project.

Overall, this conference has been a valuable experience for me in the sense that I was able to enrich my knowledge related to different fields in the branches of chemistry and biology. I also made a personal achievement by presenting my research to researchers in the chemistry area. Last but not least, I was able to connect with and learn from other researchers about their projects at a similar career stage.

Article by: Fong Kai Lee (PhD Student of Dr Kuan Hon Lim)

Posted in Postgraduate