The Journal of Organic Chemistry continues to be the premier forum for publishing penetrating, inquisitive, and thorough studies of fundamental organic chemistry—from new reactions, structures, and functions through to their scope, mechanisms, and applications. JOC recently produced two Special Issues that highlight current hot research topics demonstrating those superlatives: "Synthesis of Antibiotics & Related Molecules" and "Organic & Biocompatible Transformations in Aqueous Media."
Natural product synthesis is a cornerstone topic for JOC and has long been critical in antibiotic development. The JOC Special Issue covers total synthesis, biosynthesis, and structure-activity relationships of antimicrobial compounds, including the examples shown on the intriguing cover, which depicts the pathogens Antibiotics superstar Kuniaki Tatsuta of Waseda University introduces the issue with a special editorial, "Reconfirmation of 'Art' in Organic Synthesis," along with an editorial by the issue's guest editors, Mohammad Movassaghi of MIT and Wilfred van der Donk of the University of Illinois, Urbana−Champaign. Natural products have long inspired organic chemists to develop new synthetic strategies and methodologies, Movassaghi and van der Donk note, and their societal value cannot be underestimated--the advent of antibiotics from natural sources has fundamentally changed how medicine is practiced. "With the promise of genome mining delivering a large number of new structures to complement a perennially strong discovery effort focused on activity-based screens, it is clear that the future is bright," they write.
In an editorial entitled "Chemistry Takes a Bath: Reactions in Aqueous Media," guest editors David Romney and Frances Arnold (yes, the 2018 Nobel Laureate!) of Caltech, Bruce Lipshutz of UC Santa Barbara, and Chao-Jun Li of McGill University introduce the JOC Special issue on chemistry in water. They write that water is usually considered an enemy in organic synthesis, "lurking in the shadows, waiting to reduce yields and destroy reproducibility." But they further point out that organic solvents contribute an unreasonable amount of toxic chemical waste to the environment. Thus, there's been a push to replace reactions run in traditional organic solvents with alternatives that function in aqueous media. In the JOC Special Issue, the articles describe research that reflects a variety of modern advancements, all realized in aqueous media, including asymmetric catalysis, micelle-enabled reactions, electrochemistry, photochemistry, and reactions mediated by enzymes. The enticing cover is meant to encourage the reader to appreciate how beautiful our world is and that with “Chemistry in Water,” following Natureʼs lead, organic synthesis can become a greener discipline and contribute to global sustainability.
Both these JOC Special Issues are chock full of interesting chemistry of historical and modern importance and seem destined to be lasting resources for researchers and students alike.