The principal aim of a synthetic organic chemist is to create new, efficient ways in which molecules can be built. This ability to construct organic molecules is a vital scientific skill, the outcome of which underpins many other disciplines in academia and industry. In the Snape group, we aim to nurture these skills through the development of new synthetic methods to biologically important molecules and structural building blocks and also apply them to the synthesis of natural products. We also endeavour to ascertain the biological activity of the compounds we synthesise.

Semi-pinacol rearrangement: Recently, we applied the semi-pinacol rearrangement to the synthesis of highly-functionalised cyclopentenones, and we hopeto exploit this and other related rearrangements to the synthesis of natural products, for example, pumiliotoxin C and litseaverticillol A.

 Some recently published work in this area:

Truce-Smiles rearrangement: We are also interested in the relatively under utilised Truce-Smiles rearrangement, and hope to be able to develop it into a synthetically useful procedure for the preparation of a whole range of biologically interesting compounds and molecular building blocks.

Some recently published work in this area:


Monoamine oxidase chemistry: In collaboration with the Turner group at the University of Manchester, we have developed a template-based mnemonic to allow the prediction of substrates for the enzyme variants of a monoamine oxidase from Aspergillus niger. The model has been exemplified by the asymmetric synthesis of the natural product crispine A and a deoxygenated congener.

 Some recently published work in this area:

Asymmetric synthesis of tertiary alcohols: We are interested in developing an asymmetric and flexible chemoenzymatic route to tertiary alcohols. The direct synthesis of such molecules is not trivial and the development of a more indirect but flexible approach to them would prove extremely useful, especially since they constitute an important class of compound and are found in numerous natural products and pharmaceuticals.

Synthesis of tertiary alcohol precursors:

 Asymmetric synthesis of tertiary alcohols:

 Synthesis of symmetrical azetidines bearing tertairy alcohols:

 Some recently published work in this area:

Enzymatic methods for the synthesis of hindered amides: We are interested in developing new tandem processes which enable the chemoenzymatic synthesis of sterically hindered amides which are currently not accessible using current biocatalytic methods.

Some recently published work in this area:


We are currently very interested in the anticancer properties of a number of the molecules we make and we have recently embarked upon a research programme looking at the effect certain compounds have on different glioma cell lines. As such, the group is a member of Brain Tumour North West - a new strategic alliance designed to consolidate and exploit clinical and research-based brain tumour expertise which currently exists within the region.



UCLan BTNW members - 2016

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BTNW brochure (5MB) - download 

Some recently published work in this area:









We have recently embarked on a new project: Development of new conformationally restricted diarylureas and benzanilides as microtubule inhibitors for the modulation of immunologically and non-immunologically activated mast cell degranulation. Watch this space....