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Biosketch Romano Orru

Romano currently holds the chair of Synthetic & Bio-organic Chemistry of the VU-University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He started his academic career at the Agricultural University in Wageningen, the Netherlands, where he studied Molecular Sciences and obtained his PhD in 1994 with prof Aede de Groot on the synthesis of sesquiterpenes. From 1996–2000 he worked as a post-doc and assistant professor in the group of Prof. Kurt Faber at the Technical and Karl-Franszens Universities (Graz, Austria) on Biocatalytic Synthesis. In 2000 he was appointed assistant professor and later associate professor (2003) at the VU University Amsterdam, where he became a full professor in 2007. Romano is now one of the leading players in the field of multicomponent, tandem and diversity oriented synthesis-related chemistry. He received several major research grants from local, national and international funding agencies (e.g. NWO-CW TOP, EU-IMI). Noteworthy are also a NWO-VICI award received in 2005 and two international awards: The Innolec lectureship award in bio-organic chemistry of the Czech Chemical Society (2009) and the Gold Badge for contribution to World Science and Intl Scientific Coll. Of the Intl. Science Partnership Foundation, Ukraine (2012).


Bio-Organic Synthesis

My main research interest focuses on sustainable synthetic method development employing cascade, domino (or tandem) processes. The methodology is applied to the diversity-oriented synthesis of small focused libraries of fine-chemicals with a high added value, like building blocks for medicines or ligands for catalysis. Novel multicomponent reactions (MCRs) and strategies for Diversity Oriented Synthesis, using simple starting materials to generate highly diverse libraries of functionalized small molecules in a single step are at the heart of this research. This approach is not only very efficient, versatile, and environmentally friendly, but importantly provides rapid access to key compounds for small molecular probes for chemical biology research, building blocks for medicines (APIs) or ligands for catalysis.
Both mechanistic aspects, stereochemistry using biocatalysis, optimization towards robust procedures and synthetic utility are studied in-depth and our chemistry proved successful for the synthesis of potentially biologically active molecules as well as ligands relevant to catalysis (N-heterocyclic carbene complexes, organocatalysts). A highlight of our research is a spectacular and unprecedented eight-component reaction (8-CR), reported as Hot Paper in Angewandte Chemie (2009) and highlighted in Nature. This work also received considerable attention from the public media (e.g. cover article in the national news-paper “Spits”).


For further details see also our website: www.syborch.com


Organic Chemistry & Structure, 1st year BSc Chemistry 

Organic Chemistry & Synthesis, 2nd year BSc Pharmaceutical Sciences

Bio-organic Chemistry, MSc Chemistry

Natural Product and Tandem Chemistry, MSc Chemistry, University of Antwerp (B)

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