Organic Synthesis Core

" My group has been working for the last  14 years to understand how prostate cancer tissue can produce strong testicular androgens (DHT) from weak adrenal androgens. Dr. Watt and the Organic Synthesis Core synthesized fluorescent reagents that have allowed us to interrogate the terminal enzymatic step for DHT production. These same reagents form the basis for a strategy to find inhibitors that may provide a new treatment to extend the life of men with advanced prostate cancer. Our work would not be possible without collaboration among our two groups, the Organic Synthesis and the Roswell Park mass spectrometry core. "
James Mohler
About the Core

The Organic Synthesis Core provides biological investigators with access to “small” organic compounds that allow investigators at the University of Kentucky and other institutions to probe important biological questions relevant to the molecular basis of human medicine. 

 The core maintains an open-door policy for consultation.  In a collaborative process, the Core designs specific small molecules and tailors these small molecules to include suitable functional groups for linkage to proteins, peptide-nucleic-acid (PNA) mimics or to suitable markers for the detection and monitoring of a particular drug or natural product.  Tailoring includes the incorporation of fluorescent tags, photoactive groups, non-radiogenic labels (e.g., deuterium) or radiolabels, as needed.  The laboratory maintains equipment needed for organic synthesis and utilizes infrared, mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance instrumentation to characterize adducts and to establish their purity.  The Core also assists investigators with the characterization and purification of compounds acquired from other sources.  The Core does not synthesize compounds available from commercial sources, compounds that derive from controlled substances, compounds that require the handling of dangerous reagents, and compounds that require multistep procedures (i.e., greater than five steps).

Training opportunities are available for graduate students, technicians and postdoctoral fellows from other research groups who wish to learn a particular technique and subsequently import it into their research group.  The core provides access to equipment:  melting point devices, low-pressure distillation equipment, photochemical apparatus, specialized glassware and chromatographic systems not generally available in biochemical laboratories and provides access to this equipment. 

To apply to use the Organic Synthesis Core, contact Dr. Dave Watt ( or Peter Spielmann (


    Synthesis and Characterization of Small Molecules For Biomedical Research.