Bromine Division of the ACS?

As a first year graduate student many years ago, I was teasing my friends who were going to attend a symposium organized by the Division of Fluorine Chemistry of the ACS. At that time, I was not into fluorine chemistry (this subsequently changed) and, understandably, found it funny that among 30 or so divisions of that society, one was entirely dedicated to a single element in the periodic table. It is probably fair that fluorine has its central role as there are just so many applications of this halogen. But what about the rest of that venerable group? Are they all just “ugly cousins” of fluorine?

Below is a reference to a cool paper that shows how valuable organobromine libraries are. On the surface, there is nothing new here: the effect of anomalous scattering has been known for a long time. But, in the context of fragment-based screening, bromine is turning into a very useful tool when one needs to soak organic molecules in protein crystals with the goal of detecting which fragments stick. My students perform soaking experiments together with our colleagues at the SGC and we know all too well how unhappy crystallographers get when they have to solve 40 or so crystal structures of a protein (corresponding to a 40 compound library), only to find out that they are all identical and nothing got stuck in the lattice. When you have a bromine atom in your molecule, there is no need to run full structure determination: due to anomalous scattering, you will see really fast if your molecule is “in”. So there you have it: bromine is special. If we add its central role in halogen bonding (my colleague Mark Taylor is one of the leaders in this field), all of a sudden there are many gains to be made by placing bromine atoms in selected positions of our molecules. I think we need to approach ACS and ask them to start the Bromine Division


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