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Student Profile in Novel Bioisosteres

Jet Tsien (钱正浩)

Organic Chemistry Graduate Program

Mentor: Tian Qin, Ph.D.
Undergraduate Degree: Chemistry
Undergraduate Institution: University of Science and Technology of China
Hometown: Lu'an, Anhui, China

Awards/Fellowships: Graduate school: GSO 2022 Spring Traveling Award, UT Southwestern Medical Center, The Molecule of the year 2021, UT Southwestern Medical Center Undergraduate :The Scholarship of Minglong Huang, The Scholarship of Shanghai Institute of Ceramics, The Second Award of the 7th National college Mathematica Competition

Jet Tsien

How did you become interested in science and/or research?

I had a dream of being a scientist during my childhood, because this career has been widely respected in China. Thus I chose to enter the University of Science and Technology of China after I graduated from high school. After one-year struggling with the study of basic math and physics, in my sophomore year, I made the decision to join the chemistry department in which I have been more interested since my high school. After experiencing several internships in different labs, I found myself enjoying organic chemistry most and then I chose it as the field which I should further study in graduate school. After internships in Prof. Phil.S.Baran's group and Prof. Ang Li's group in my senior year, I felt how devoted an organic chemist could be in their research and tried to think deeply about what kind of study a synthetic chemist should do. 'Always do useful chemistry!' This is the most valuable lesson I learned from my experience in the Scripps and the SIOC, which also motivates me to go further in my graduate study.

Please describe your research.

In Qin lab, I am fortunate to participate in several projects focusing on synthetic access to pharmaceutically relevant novel bioisosteres including bicyclo[1.1.1]pentanes (BCPs) and trifluorocyclopropyls (TFCp). BCP motif has been considered as bioisosteres for benzenes in medicinal chemistry while TFCp has been regarded as the replacement for tert-butyl groups. Via our methodologies including the intramolecular coupling to construct bicyclic scaffolds, sequential functionalization of BCP bis-boronates and sulfur(IV)-mediated C(sp3)-C(sp2) cross-coupling, we have developed a series of approaches to access multi-substituted BCPs and an applicable method for programmable and stereospecific installation of fluoroalkyl bioisosteres including TFCp.

Why did you choose UT Southwestern?

I chose UTSW for my graduate school owing to influence from my supervisor, Prof. Tian Qin. I met Tian when I did an internship in Prof. Phil.S.Baran's group in the Scripps Research Institute. During my internship, I found Tian is an amazing collaborator with extensive knowledge in chemistry and devoted attitude to synthesis. In addition, he is always so nice and helpful that I believe he would be an outstanding supervisor giving his students plenty of guidance and support after he start to be a professor in academia. When I was hesitating where I should go for further graduate study, he presented me the fantastic organic chemistry program in UTSW. From his presentation, I got to know that there are many outstanding professors devoted to organic synthesis and medicinal chemistry. Besides, since we do not have a population of undergraduate students, there is no required TA duties during our graduate study and we could focus more on research and classes. And last but not least, the high stipend could provide a satisfiying life in Dallas, which could be a huge relief for graduate students.

What do you think makes the Organic Chemistry Program one of the best?

The organic chemistry program in UTSW has the most outstanding professors who are all highly trained experts in their fields and always willing to offer support to graduate students during classes and laboratory practice. Since our class size is small, graduate students here usually have a chance of 1-to-1 interactions with professors, independence to pursue their ideas and public speaking opportunities to present their research. Also, unlike traditional chemistry programs only providing graduate students with training in organic chemistry field, there are plenty of classes and collaborations with other biologists and medicinal chemists, which offers graduate students opportunities to learn a tremendous amount of biological science and biomedical technology. Via such training, it is helpful for graduate students to develop more useful synthetic study and further be a well-rounded scientist overall, which will help us be more successful and outstanding in the next step of our career. In addition, for our original synthetic study, the OC program provides all the necessary instrumentation (NMR, GC, LC, etc) and access to facilities at our university.

What do you love about the Organic Chemistry Program?

Besides outstanding faculty, more focused research without TA work, collaboration with biochemists and medicinal chemists and high stipend, I think there are still several key factors which are attractive to prospective students. First, the graduate students here are highly social and helpful to other schoolmates, devoted to their research work and able to have work-life balances with strong histories of publications and job potentials after graduation. The OC program also offers a series of activities in daily life. For example, we have 'work in process (WIP)' report and journal clubs for us to present our research and literature we are interested in, and we hold 'chemistry discovery' discussion to select the most amazing chemistry every year. Also, the program frequently invites many chemists in different fields talking about their latest research and graduate students always have a chance to have lunch and further discussions with them. These colorful activities comprise a fantastic graduate school life which is beneficial to each graduate student's improvement.

- Jet Tsien

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