Chemistry is truly the central science and underpins much of the efforts of scientists and engineers to improve life for humankind. TheMIT Department of Chemistryis taking a leading role in discovering new chemical synthesis, catalysis, creating sustainable energy, theoretical and experimental understanding of chemistry, improving the environment, detecting and curing disease, developing materials new properties, and nanoscience.
The Chemistry Education Office staff is responsible for administering the educational programs in the Department of Chemistry. Students can find answers to many questions about the undergraduate and graduate programs on the department website, and they are encouraged to stop by and see the staff in the office located in 6-205.
The student-run outreach programs in the Department of Chemistry aim to bring the excitement of chemical sciences to the community through lively demonstrations designed to illustrate a broad range of chemical principles. Graduate students visit science classes in high schools and middle schools in the Greater Boston area with a view to demystifying chemistry through hands-on experiments. ClubChem, an undergraduate chemistry organization, conducts Chemistry Magic Shows for elementary schools and youth programs in the Greater Boston area.
Chemistry is truly the central science and underpins much of the efforts of scientists and engineers to improve life for humankind. MIT Chemistry is taking a leading role in discovering new chemical synthesis, catalysis, creating sustainable energy, theoretical and experimental understanding of chemistry at its most fundamental level, unraveling the biochemical complexities of natural systems, improving the environment, detecting and curing disease, developing materials new properties, and nanoscience.
Professor Klibanov's current research interests are in the following areas: (i) Enzymatic catalysis in nonaqueous solvents, (ii) Enzymes as stereoselective catalysts in organic synthesis, (iii) Novel microbicidal materials, and (iv) Stabilization and delivery of macromolecular pharmaceuticals (DNA and proteins).
We have discovered the rules that enable enzymes to vigorously act as catalysts in organic solvents containing little or no water. When placed in this unnatural milieu, enzymes acquire some remarkable novel properties, such as greatly enhanced thermostability and strikingly different specificity, including stereoselectivity. Our ultimate goal is to obtain a mechanistic understanding of enzymatic catalysis in nonaqueous media. This knowledge will enable us to control predictably the behavior of enzymes by altering the solvent, rather than the protein molecule itself (as in protein engineering). Enzymes in organic solvents are also used as catalysts of synthetically interesting and challenging processes, such as asymmetric oxidoreductions.
Our recent studies have resulted in a new, “non-release” strategy for rendering common materials (plastics, glass, textiles) permanently microbicidal. This strategy, involving covalent attachment of certain long, moderately hydrophobic polycations to material surfaces, has been proven to be very effective against a variety of pathogenic bacteria and fungi, both airborne and waterborne. This work continues along with a quest for creating material coatings with anti-viral and anti-sporal activities.
In order to be therapeutically useful, drugs have to be stable and bioavailable. Unfortunately, macromolecular pharmaceuticals are lacking in both respects. We aim to elaborate the mechanism-based approaches to overcoming these obstacles. For example, recently we have undertaken a systematic investigation of the effect of selective chemical modifications of polyethylenimine (PEI) on its efficiency as a vector for plasmid DNA delivery into mammalian cells. As a result, PEI’s derivatives have been discovered with both far greater transfection efficiency and lower toxicity than those of the parent polymer (considered a “gold standard” in non-viral gene delivery vehicles).