The Levin group focuses on the development of synthetic methods, reagents, and catalytic principles that enable precision synthesis. Synthetic chemistry is unique among scientific disciplines for its power to create wholly novel entities, and as such serves both to influence a wide range of allied fields while simultaneously serving as a powerful platform for exploration and discovery. 


The reach of synthetic chemistry has provided information on a wide range of structurally unusual species, many of which show otherwise unprecedented patterns of reactivity. Harnessing such precedents for the development of synthetically useful transformations which expand the complement of available retrosynthetic disconnections is a key focus of our laboratory. Such research naturally bridges organic, inorganic, and organometallic synthesis, with lessons from mechanistic elucidation serving subsequently as a design tool.


Although modern organic synthesis allows for the preparation of most envisioned target structures, such endeavors still often require lengthy campaigns, and the preparation of related species can often necessitate re-engineering of the synthetic route altogether. This is in contrast to the philosophical approach of lead-optimization central to medicinal chemistry, wherein structure-activity relationships are established via changes to a parent scaffold. Though much progress has been made in C-H functionalization approaches towards this goal, we seek to bring synthetic methodologies to bear which enable the direct interrogation of single-atom insertions and deletions of the constitutive elements of ring and chain systems.


A natural outgrowth of our focus on single-atom editing is the ability to instal isotopic labels into traditionally challenging sites of the molecule. In addition to stable and long-lived isotopes (e.g. carbon-13 or carbon-14), methods for the synthesis of short-lived positron emitting isotopes with relevance to PET imaging are being developed in partnership with the Cyclotron Facility at the University of Chicago.