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EAGER: Assessing Potential Bioprivileged Molecules


Novel biomass-derived chemical species hold significant promise for providing societal needs for new and improved products such as next-generation materials, polymers, corrosion inhibitors, lubricants, antimicrobials, food preservatives, insecticides, etc., with enhanced performance properties. In the search for improved products, biomass provides access to chemical species that cannot be effectively derived from petrochemical sources. Despite the desire for novel molecules, a significant challenge in their identification and development is the relative dearth of understanding between chemical species and final product performance attributes. This lack of structure-function knowledge creates a dilemma as the precise chemical target for improved product performance cannot be easily defined and as such no single target chemical species can be systematically identified. <br/><br/>The goal of this EAGER project is to advance the systematic identification of bioprivileged molecules, which are biology-derived chemical intermediates that can be efficiently converted to a diversity of chemical products including both novel molecules and drop-in replacements, by integrating a reaction network computational framework with experimental-driven knowledge of feasible reactions involving multifunctional molecules derived from biomass. The project will utilize the computational framework to generate candidate bioprivileged molecules, so the final objective is to assess whether these predicted molecules are potential bioprivileged molecules. If successful our approach will dramatically alter the search for useful, new biomass-derived chemicals as well as provide chemical targets for bioenegineering efforts.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Brent Shanks; George Kraus
Iowa State University
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