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Texas Tech Researcher Receives NIH Grant to Study Better Ways to Make Pharmaceuticals

A professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry will use the grant to discover faster, more cost-effective ways to sterilize the compounds used to make pharmaceutical drugs.

Written by John Davis

A Texas Tech University chemistry researcher received a four-year, $1.06 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study more effective methods for creating compounds used in pharmaceuticals.

Guigen Li, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, will use the grant to discover faster, more cost-effective ways to sterilize the compounds used to make pharmaceutical drugs.

The new experimental purification concept that Li helped create, called GAP chemistry, means Group Assistant Purification and could speed up drug production in the future as well as cut costs.

“The current way of purifying takes a lot of time and money,” Li said. “Sometimes it can take more time to purify the compounds used to make the drugs than it does to manufacture the actual drugs. Discovering a new purification technique could have a huge impact on drug synthesis as well as make drug discovery faster and more cost-effective.”

Organic synthesis of pharmaceuticals has been around for more than 100 years, Li said, and traditionally utilizes time-consuming chromatography and recrystallization. The GAP concept encourages chemists to search for more efficient reagents and related reactions to minimize use of energy, materials and manpower.

Also with GAP chemistry, the materials used to purify the drugs can be recovered and reused.

This is Li’s fourth NIH grant that he’s received since he began working at Texas Tech in 1997. In that time, he has trained 18 graduate students and 60 undergraduates. About 20 undergraduates have co-authored research publications with Li.

CONTACT: Guigen Li, professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, (806) 742-3015, or guigen.li@ttu.edu.

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