Undergraduate research students embarked on an interdisciplinary project that simulated real-world research. The students did extensive research into the history, structure, synthesis and mechanism of penicillin and its derivatives. Each student chose to synthesize a different derivative based on their research findings. After synthesis, the compounds were given to the microbiology students for analysis of their antibiotic properties. Penicillins belong to the b-lactam class of antibiotics and are used to treat both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. Penicillins all have a common backbone and a changeable side chain group. The basic structure of penicillin can be purchased and the side chains can be added easily using chemical reactions and techniques learned in organic chemistry. The students prepared penicillin derivatives using the following side chains: phenoxyacetyl chloride, 1-napththolyl chloride, and benzoyl chloride. The synthesis and work-up took three hours. The samples were then tested for activity against penicillin, purchased through Carolina Biological, to determine their antibiotic properties. The results of the synthesis and analysis of the derivatives is presented in this poster. This project is a great way to expose students to the drug-discovery and research process. The students involved in this research were freshman and sophomores. This was their first time doing scientific research and drug synthesis. The students doing the microbiology analysis were seniors. This was a great learning project for all students and facilitates critically-thinking skills that a normal laboratory course would not provide.


Piedmont University Natural Science Department

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