Viktor Krchnak, a research professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry since 2003, has recently become director of a new research group at Palacky University in the Czech Republic, expanding a collaborative effort that has brought four Czech doctoral candidates to Notre Dame in recent years. The research will be dedicated to high throughput organic synthesis of heterocyclic compounds, an important area in drug discovery. A grant of more than $1 million from the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports will support the group, which will include 10 to 12 doctoral candidates and postdoctoral fellows, for three years.
The group will work closely with a new Biomedicine for Regional Development and Human Resources (BioMedReg) initiative funded by the European Union at Palacky University. The project’s six research programs, covering aspects of human health from diagnosis to therapy, includes one in medicinal chemistry focused on the synthesis of new organic compounds that could lead to drug development.
Combinatorial chemistry and high-throughput organic synthesis, developed in the early 1990s, has already become an integral part of drug discovery efforts as it allows rapid access to synthetic compounds and identification of those that are most promising for drug development. Important for academia and student education, the process can be performed with simple, inexpensive equipment, although pharmaceutical companies made multi-million dollar investments to build robots capable of fully automatic high throughput organic synthesis.
The Notre Dame-Palacky connection started when Jan Hlavac, head of the Department of Organic Chemistry at Palacky University, heard Krchnak lecture at the Blue Danube Symposium on Heterocyclic Chemistry in the Czech Republic. Hlavac later arranged for a postdoctoral fellow, Miroslav Soural, to work in Krchnak’s laboratory at Notre Dame. “He spent one year here,” Krchnak said, adding that three other students have visited in five years and he hopes the exchange can be expanded.
Read more about the Center for High Throughput Organic Synthesis at Palacky University