An opportunity to meet people who have made important contributions to science is one of the most rewarding parts of attending a conference, particularly if you are a student. I was glad that my PhD student Sean Liew has been at the MCR conference in Brazil along with me. Sean’s yet to be published total synthesis of one of the ceramide natural products is based on his keen interest in pushing the frontiers of amphoteric reactivity. In his work, Sean has used the Petasis borono-Mannich reaction and, as luck would have it, had a chance to meet the man himself. Below is a photo of Sean together with Professor Nicos Petasis of the USC, which was taken right about time when we were all heading out to a nearby churrasqueira (a Brazilian barbeque). Giving a talk in the same morning session with Nicos was a real treat for Sean, something he will treasure for a long time. One of these days I will ask Sean to explain the key steps of his synthesis on this blog (his talk went great).
Speaking of the latest trends in that remarkable boronic acid-based process developed by Nicos and his students, here is their neat paper published a couple of weeks ago in Organic Letters. Try to figure out the origin of the difference between the two products before you click on that link. It is an interesting story. I have always been amazed by how many surprises await those who continue to stick to an area of inquiry for many years. The Petasis reaction has led to a treasure trove of discoveries and the paper below demonstrates that one more time. Finally, I really want to thank Professor Carlos Kleber for organizing this event and bringing us all to Brazil.