Doctoral defence: Andre Leesment “Quantitative studies of Brønsted acidity in biphasic systems and gas-phase”

On 9 June at 10:15 Andre Leesment will defend his doctoral thesis “Quantitative studies of Brønsted acidity in biphasic systems and gas-phase” for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in Chemistry).

Professor Ivo Leito, University of Tartu

Professor Kiyohiko Sugano, Ritsumeikan University (Japan)

Imagine a glass with half of it filled with cooking oil and half of it filled with water. On the top, there is the oil layer and, on the bottom, the aqueous layer. These layers, typically referred to as phases, are visually clearly separated from each other. However, they still interact with each other and whatever is dissolved in these phases. In very broad terms, something similar is present on the outside of the cells in every person. So, when we consume some kind of medicine, such as ibuprofen, a very common over-the-counter painkiller, it interacts with both the water phase and the oil phase. Meanwhile, experiments, the results of which are used for describing the mechanism of action of ibuprofen in living organisms, are almost always performed under monophasic conditions, so basically something that we could compare to a glass of just water. Research clearly shows that these interactions in and with the so-called oil layer can have a significant influence on these mechanisms, yet they have been largely ignored. At the same time, data from these experiments strongly influences our understanding of how exactly medicines work and therefore, drug design in general. You could compare it to being able to see only with one eye – you maybe get the big picture but often miss out on important details. So why is such a shallow approach being used for something this important? Until recently, there were no reliable theoretical and experimental protocols designed to conduct these experiments under more relevant conditions. However, there is now. My doctor’s thesis revolves around providing the humankind with tools to gain better understanding of the modes of action of medicines, such as ibuprofen, as well as many other chemicals in other applications, hopefully leading to more effective drug design and industrial processes.

Defence can be also followed in Teams.