June 2016 - ACS Axial | ACS Publications

Life in the Lab: Helping Chemists Make Use of Data

Paimun “PJ” Amini is a chemistry IT lead at Monsanto. Amini develops software that enables chemists to gather data more efficiently, so they can get an accurate analysis for their crop protection research. In this video, Amini talks about global food challenges, the role of IT in enabling chemists, as well as the importance of designing systems that don’t inhibit a scientists creativity when it comes to experimental design.

Watch Amini’s video to learn more:

Watch more great videos from the American Chemical Society.

To Stop Cancer, Understand How It Spreads

Scientists are gaining new insights into what might happen when cancer cells spread in the body, squeezing through — and even dividing in — narrow blood vessels as they go. Researchers say that a better understanding of how cancer spreads in the body could help them learn to treat the disease, as cancer’s ability to spread from one part of the body to another is a leading cause of cancer deaths. A study of how cancer cells are able to elongate and divide to fit through narrow capillary vessels was recently published in ACS Nano.

Watch more great videos from the American Chemical Society.

John R. Yates III on the Future of Proteome Research

No one understands the importance of studying proteomes quite like John R. Yates III, the recently named editor-in-chief of the Journal of Proteome Research.

Get to know more about Yates and the field of proteomics in this wide-ranging video interview. Yates discusses his vision for the journal, including areas it could expand to cover in the future. He also talks about the research that is currently exciting him the most, the importance of data reproducibility and his advice for young researchers.

Watch an interview with John R. Yates III:

Learn more about the Journal of Proteome Research and the work of John R. Yates III with these recent research samples:

Physiological and Molecular Alterations Promoted by Schizotetranychus oryzae Mite Infestation in Rice Leaves
J. Proteome Res., 2016, 15 (2), pp 431–446
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.5b00729

Chromosome-Based Proteomic Study for Identifying Novel Protein Variants from Human Hippocampal Tissue Using Customized neXtProt and GENCODE Databases
J. Proteome Res., 2015, 14 (12), pp 5028–5037
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.5b00472

Pulsed Azidohomoalanine Labeling in Mammals (PALM) Detects Changes in Liver-Specific LKB1 Knockout Mice
J. Proteome Res., 2015, 14 (11), pp 4815–4822
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.5b00653

Behavioral and Proteomic Analysis of Stress Response in Zebrafish (Danio rerio)
J. Proteome Res., 2015, 14 (2), pp 943–952
DOI: 10.1021/pr500998e

In-Line Separation by Capillary Electrophoresis Prior to Analysis by Top-Down Mass Spectrometry Enables Sensitive Characterization of Protein Complexes
J. Proteome Res., 2014, 13 (12), pp 6078–6086
DOI: 10.1021/pr500971h

In the Lab with Courtney Aldrich

Courtney AldrichCourtney Aldrich is a chemist, an associate professor in the Medicinal Chemistry Department at the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy, and the Editor-in-Chief of a newly launched journal, ACS Infectious Diseases. As a result, he has little time for outside hobbies. But the one hobby he allows himself still involves his professional interests.

In his office, Aldrich keeps a 500-liter saltwater aquarium filled with exotic fish. (His favorite specimen: a porcupine pufferfish.) Saltwater aquariums are notoriously hard to maintain. When a fish gets sick with a bacterial or parasitic infection, he applies his knowledge of infectious diseases and treats them with an appropriate anti-protoazoal agent or antibiotic. “There’s a lot of water chemistry involved, which reinforces my general chemistry. I must ensure optimal parameters including dissolved oxygen, ammonia, nitrate, pH, ORP, salinity, and temperature,” Aldrich says.

Aldrich also has a new, custom-built lab at the university’s newest research building, the Microbiology Research Facility. The lab’s primary focus is designing new antibiotics for tuberculosis. Its research will save lives: tuberculosis has overtaken HIV as the leading cause of death by infectious disease.

The lab is home to two postdocs and six graduate students. Current projects are aimed at developing antibiotics that block mycobacteria’s ability to obtain iron, an essential micronutrient; the metabolism of biotin, which is required for bacterial persistence in vivo; and the biosynthesis of mycolic acid, a hallmark mycobacterial lipid that is up to 80 carbons in length and provides a permeability barrier that shields the bacteria from environmental stress and provides intrinsic resistance to many antibiotics.

The Microbiology Research Facility clusters other principal investigators with similar research interests in close proximity. Although Aldrich’s lab is the only chemistry lab in the building, he is surrounded by other scientists studying infectious diseases.

“I am incredibly excited about this opportunity to be immersed in microbiology,” says Courtney Aldrich.

3 Most Recent Articles by the Courtney Aldrich Research Group

  1. Targeting Mycobacterium tuberculosis Biotin Protein Ligase (MtBPL) with Nucleoside-Based Bisubstrate Adenylation Inhibitors
    J. Med. Chem., 2015, 58 (18), pp 7349–7369
    DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.5b00719
  2. Investigation and Conformational Analysis of Fluorinated Nucleoside Antibiotics Targeting Siderophore Biosynthesis
    J. Org. Chem., 2015, 80 (10), pp 4835–4850
    DOI: 10.1021/acs.joc.5b00550
  3. Functional Characterization of a Dehydratase Domain from the Pikromycin Polyketide Synthase
    J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2015, 137 (22), pp 7003–7006
    DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b02325

ACS Editors’ Choice: A Closer Look at Biosynthetic Polymers as Functional Materials

This week: a perspective on Biosynthetic Polymers as Functional Materials, sleep aids, multispectral chiral imaging — and more!

Each and every day, ACS grants free access to a new peer-reviewed research article from one of the Society’s journals. These articles are specially chosen by a team of scientific editors of ACS journals from around the world to highlight the transformative power of chemistry. Access to these articles will remain open to all as a public service.

Check out this week’s picks!
5-Alkyl-2-urea-Substituted Pyridines: Identification of Efficacious Glucokinase Activators with Improved Properties
ACS Med. Chem. Lett., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acsmedchemlett.6b00145
Semiempirical Modeling of Ag Nanoclusters: New Parameters for Optical Property Studies Enable Determination of Double Excitation Contributions to Plasmonic Excitation
J. Phys. Chem. A, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.6b04520
Hop (Humulus lupulus L.) Extract and 6-Prenylnaringenin Induce P450 1A1 Catalyzed Estrogen 2-Hydroxylation
Chem. Res. Toxicol., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.6b00112
Biosynthetic Polymers as Functional Materials
Macromolecules, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.6b00439
Liquid-like Solids Support Cells in 3D
ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.6b00218
Multispectral Chiral Imaging with a Metalens
Nano Lett., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.6b01897
Electron Transfer Reactivity of the Aqueous Iron(IV)–Oxo Complex. Outer-Sphere vs Proton-Coupled Electron Transfer
Inorg. Chem., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.6b00966
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Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference Advances Sustainable Design


The 20th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference was held in the eco-friendly city of Portland, Oregon, from June 14 – 16, 2016. This conference is hosted by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI).

This conference provides a unique atmosphere to present, discuss and learn about new ideas, innovations and initiatives related to sustainability challenges and helping chemistry move forward. The program featured 30 technical sessions, a poster session, keynotes lectures, the GC&E Student Workshop, 6th Annual ACS GCI Roundtable Poster Reception, and the Green Expo.

This year’s program focused on “Advancing Sustainable Solutions by Design”. Keynote speakers included Jin-Quan Yu Professor of Chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute. In addition to Nate Lewis Professor of Chemistry, who has been on the faculty at the California Institute of Technology, along with Paul Anastas, Director of the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at Yale.

According to C&EN, attendees at the Green Chemistry & Engineering conference were informed in advance of the 2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards winners. This year’s winners included Albemarle, CB&I, Dow AgroSciences, Newlight Technologies, Verdezyne, and Organometallics Editor-in-Chief Paul J. Chirik. The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards was founded by the Environmental Protection Agency to help support efforts which promote chemical products and manufacturing processes that help the EPA achieve federal goals set by the provisions of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990.

ACS Publications journal, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering was a bronze level sponsor and exhibitor. The journal was on hand actively promoting author submissions for letters, articles, features and reviews that address the challenges of sustainability in the chemical enterprise and advancing principles of Green Chemistry and Green Engineering.


ACS Executive Director & CEO, Dr. Thomas Connelly

Furthermore, the journal was seeking nominations for the inaugural ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering Lectureship awards, which will recognize and honor the contributions of three early career investigators from around the world, who are doing exceptional research that impacts sustainability, green chemistry, or green engineering. During the conference, Thomson Reuters announced ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering new impact Factor had risen to 5.267, an increase of 13.5% since last year.

Both the Editor-in-Chief of ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, Dr. David Allen and ACS Executive Director & CEO, Dr. Thomas Connelly were both in attendance showing their support at the conference as well. Next year, the 21st Annual GC&E will be held in Reston, Virginia between June 13-15.

Reddit Explores the Future of Urban Water Systems


On June 7, ACS Publications Editor and Professor David L. Sedlak joined forces to host an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit’s r/Science on the topic of urban water systems and what is happening with the world’s water supplies. Professor Sedlak teaches courses on Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, Co-Director of the Berkeley Water Center, as well as Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Science & Technology and Environmental Science & Technology Letters. His research centers on water quality and the development of sustainable methods for managing urban water systems. As always, the Reddit community had a lot of insightful questions for Professor Sedlak. Here are some highlights:

/u/jakkdata: Are there signs or leading measures that suggest widespread water shortage in the next 20 years?

Professor Sedlak: I’m going to answer this one in two parts: First, for countries with stable populations, lots of existing water infrastructure and plenty of money there are likely to be problems with water supply like the one that we have been experiencing in California. In particular, places like the Colorado River basin, Central Texas and California will see shortage as cities continue to expand and water rights battles transpire. These types of shortages can be addressed by better policies. The other part of this question, and the one that is more worrisome, is related to the parts of the world that have rapidly growing populations, few existing investments and economic activity that cannot support expensive solutions like desalination. The World Bank recently put out a study showing how shortages by the year 2050 (and sooner) will affect the economies of Africa, India and Asia. Their point was that smart investment could minimize the pain of these shortages. So yes, there is plenty of reason to expect widespread shortages in specific parts of the world in the next 20 years.

/u/ arcaneatheist: As a pretreatment professional, we’ve seen a large disinvestment of the program at the national level even though the program has been proven to be one of the most effective in restoring the nation’s water bodies. I’m interested in the future of direct potable reuse as employed recently in Wichita Falls, TX. If this practice is projected to increase around the country, how do you see the role of pretreatment professionals evolving over the next couple of decades?

Professor Sedlak: Pretreatment (for those who are not in the know, subjecting commercial or industrial waste to some sort of treatment before putting waste down the sewer)–indeed an important issue. Most people don’t realize that we still use our municipal sewers as chemical waste disposal systems. This wasn’t noticeable back in the bad old days when we just piped everything to the nearest river or estuary but now that we want to turn our sewage into drinking water we need to be more careful about what we put down the sewer. In Orange County, home of the oldest potable reuse project in the US, we worked with the local sanitation agency to identify the sources of the carcinogen NDMA that was showing up in the recycled water. It turned out that a substantial fraction of the compound was coming from a small number of metal-plating factories that were using a dithiocarbamate-based chemical to remove metals. In this case, it wasn’t the dithiocarbamates themselves, but a trace impurity in the industrial grade chemicals that they were using that was the source of the NDMA. With talented pretreatment people this problem was easy to fix. It could not be done simply by sitting in an office looking at paperwork. More recently the Orange County plant has observed pulses of acetone coming down the sewer. This is a problem because the reverse osmosis membranes that are their main barrier to chemicals cannot remove uncharged, low molecular weight compounds. There is definitely a need for better pre-treatment programs and enforcement to protect these new sources of drinking water. You have a bright future as a pretreatment specialist, especially if you are willing to get your hands wet (and dirty)!

/u/sarahbotts: Should people be using water filters? If so – is there something specific to look out for? I live in the city and you can definitely tell when water tastes off.

Professor Sedlak: Your water tastes “off”. No need to panic–it’s usually a problem that is easy to fix with an activated carbon water filter. Typically when water tastes strange it is due to part-per-trillion levels of compounds with very strong tastes and odors like geosmin (one of the main compounds that give beets their earthy flavor) or 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (the compound that also makes wine taste “corky”). These compounds can ruin the taste of water but don’t pose a health risk at these low levels. They are well removed by carafe or under-the-sink water filters. Sometimes water tastes off because there is too much chlorine or chloramine in it. This is also removed on activated carbon filters because it reacts with the high surface area and catalytic surface sites.

A well run water utility should be able to manage this issue by using ozone to remove the organic compounds or taking better care of the pipe network. But as we all know, not every water utility is well run. So go ahead and use a filter if you don’t like the taste of the water. Just don’t forget to change it every now and again.

/u/Fraagen: I’m considering majoring in Environmental Engineering. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Is geological engineering similar? Any tips for a new engineering student?

Professor Sedlak: Rewards: Where to start? Playing a small role in making the world a better place is at the top of the list for me. After that, I really like the ability to apply fundamental knowledge from different sciences (e.g., chemistry, biology, physics) to solving practical problems. Some have taken to calling this discipline “environmental engineering science” to emphasize the idea that we are using a mechanistic understanding of the way the world works instead of simply using an empirical approach as the engineers did in the early days.

Another aspect of the field that I find particularly compelling is trying to learn about the way that natural systems work and employ those lessons to improve water quality. We do this in our research on constructed wetlands where we try to create environments where photochemical reactions and microbial processes that happen slowly in real wetland systems can be harnessed to work for us in low-cost treatment systems capable of treating the water from an entire river.

I don’t think that I would recommend being a geologist or someone who spent their time trying to figure out how to get more oil and gas out of the ground. If they don’t turn their attention to putting the carbon back underground (and not taking any more stuff out) I can’t see much of a long term future in it. Tips? Don’t shortchange your training in fundamental sciences. You can always learn the more vocational parts later. You will never teach yourself organic chemistry or physical chemistry in your spare time.

/u/Kongsfjorden: Geologist here! What do you think of antibiotics as an emerging contaminant?

Professor Sedlak: For those who don’t know,”emerging contaminant” is a term used to describe a contaminant that we should be monitoring and possibly controlling because it could pose a risk to public health and/or the environment. When I first started thinking about chemicals that are present in municipal wastewater (way back in 1998) I thought that antibiotics would be a major concern. But after reading some of the literature, I concluded that antibiotic resistant organisms, mainly produced by people who do not take their whole course of medication and overuse of antibiotics in agriculture, are the bigger concern. The levels of antibiotics in wastewater just seemed like they were too low to really select for resistance. Recently I have become more concerned about this issue as scientists have begun to learn more about gene transfer and antibiotic resistance selection in the environment. There was an excellent review/feature article on this in ES&T in 2014.

Using Nanoparticles to Reduce Drug Toxicity in Pancreatic Cancer Patients

Sometimes the treatment for a disease can be almost as dangerous as the ailment it seeks to cure. In the case of pancreatic cancer, one of the most effective drug regimens, FOLFIRINOX, contains a highly toxic drug called irinotecan. Huan Meng and Xiangsheng Liu are authors on a recent paper in ACS Nano on a way to use nanoparticles to help reduce the toxicity of the regimen. Their research describes the custom-designing of a mesoporous silica nanoparticle platform to deliver irinotecan directly to cancerous cells, instead of releasing it into the rest of the body.

Watch them describe their research:

Want to learn more? Read their research in ACS Nano.

ACS Publications Announces First-Time Attendee Travel Grant for Librarians and Library School Students

ACS Publications is happy to announce our First-Time Attendee Travel Grant for Librarians and Library School Students to attend the ACS National Meeting in Philadelphia, PA (August 21-25, 2016).

ACS Publications is encouraging librarians who have never attended an ACS National Meeting to apply for this travel grant. We want the opportunity to help new, or aspiring, chemistry or science librarians to network with the community of librarians, researchers, and ACS staff at this national conference. Full-time library school students are also encouraged to apply to network and learn more about this exciting field of academic librarianship.

Applications are now being accepted. Please see below for application requirements and submission instructions.

Program Details

Amount: The grant covers registration to the conference, as well as reimbursement of up to $2,500 in travel expenses.

Number of Awards: Up to two available per meeting.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Full-time librarian, or full-time library school student at an ALA-accredited institution.
  • Never attended an ACS National Meeting.
  • Must be able to attend the entire conference.

Expectations of Awardee:

  • Attend the ACS Division of Chemical Information Welcoming Reception and Poster Session (Sunday).
  • Attend as a guest of ACS Publications at the Kavli Foundation Lecture Reception (Monday).
  • Attend a lunch with ACS Publications staff during National Meeting.
  • Serve on Award Committee for the next National Meeting travel grant.
  • Write an article for ACS Axial after the meeting on their first time experience, advice, and takeaways from the meeting.

An institutional subscription to ACS Publications is NOT required.

The award committee is comprised of ACS Publications staff.

To apply for the travel grant, please submit the following in a single PDF:

  • CV/Resume required; references are optional.
  • Short essay, no more than 1000 words, on how attending the ACS National Meeting will benefit your education/career and what you hope to get out of attending the conference.

Send your entry to Michael Qiu, M_Qiu@acs.org, by Friday, July 15, 2016 at 5 PM Eastern Time. Recipients will be contacted no later than Friday, July 22.

Questions? Please contact Michael Qiu, M_Qiu@acs.org.

ACS Editors’ Choice: Sustainable Energy for Smart Cities — And More!

This week: renewable energy sources for smart cities, wearable body monitors that check bodily fluids for heavy metals, the cyclic trimer of carbon dioxide — and more!

Each and every day, ACS grants free access to a new peer-reviewed research article from one of the Society’s journals. These articles are specially chosen by a team of scientific editors of ACS journals from around the world to highlight the transformative power of chemistry. Access to these articles will remain open to all as a public service.

Check out this week’s picks!
Novel Cephalosporins Selectively Active on Nonreplicating Mycobacterium tuberculosis
J. Med. Chem., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.5b01833
Non-monotonic Surface Charging Behavior of Platinum: A Paradigm Change
J. Phys. Chem. C, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.6b03930
Wearable Microsensor Array for Multiplexed Heavy Metal Monitoring of Body Fluids
ACS Sens., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acssensors.6b00287
Efficient Scavenging of Solar and Wind Energies in a Smart City
ACS Nano, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b02575
Improvements in Rational Design Strategies of Inulin Derivative Polycation for siRNA Delivery
Biomacromolecules, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.6b00281
Synthesis and Low Temperature Spectroscopic Observation of 1,3,5-Trioxane-2,4,6-Trione: The Cyclic Trimer of Carbon Dioxide
J. Org. Chem., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.joc.6b00647
Cation Exchange Strategy for the Encapsulation of a Photoactive CO-Releasing Organometallic Molecule into Anionic Porous Frameworks
Inorg. Chem., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.6b00674
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