Organic and Bio-organic Synthesis

Research Interests

  • Synthesis of compounds with biological activity, e.g. the antitumor compound podophyllotoxin and its analogues, carba- or pseudo-sugars as glycosidase inhibitors with potential antiviral and anti-AIDS activity, inositol analogues as secondary cellular messengers.
  • Synthesis of novel fluorizers for detection of gene expression.
  • Development of new homochiral building blocks using enzymatic catalysis: lipase-catalyzed enantio(topo)differentiation of cyclic and acyclic polyol derivatives.
  • Synthesis of new homochiral ligands for asymmetric transition metal catalysis.
  • Asymmetric synthesis based upon transition metal catalysis.
  • Combinatorial libraries: design and synthesis of new types of combinatorial libraries, which will be screened for biological activity. Emphasis will be on the construction of carbohydrate-based libraries, and on peptide or peptoid libraries with enzymatic activity.


  • Research on combinatorial libraries will be one of our priorities. With this approach, new lead structures with interesting biological activities can be discovered quickly from a large pool of compounds. Industrial partners and university laboratories with complementary know-how are welcome to collaborate.
  • The synthesis of novel fluorisers will allow determination of foreign gene expression in plants with high sensitivity and resolution. This is done by confocal microscopy in collaboration with the Department of Molecular Genetics (Prof. M. Van Montagu) and the VIB (Flemish Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology).
  • Synthesis of natural products with biological activity, and synthesis of designed analogues with tailored properties will be an important part of our investigation. For this topic, collaboration with interested industrial partners will be sought.
  • Development of new catalysts for asymmetric synthesis is also a research topic with high priority. The use of enzymes, other than lipases, in organic synthesis, as well as the design and synthesis of new homochiral ligands for transition metal catalysis will be investigated.