Faculty of Science, Mahidol University's Awards


Professor Dr. Vichai Reutrakul
TRF Senior Research Scholar (Organic Chemistry) Year 2003


Biography and Research Summary


Professor Vichai Reutrakul began his career as a lecturer in chemistry in the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, where he is now a full professor. The research program is directed exploratory research in basic synthetic organic chemistry and bioactive natural products. The directed exploratory research in basic synthetic organic chemistry involves the development of new synthetic methodologies based on the fundamental properties of -halosulfonyl and sulfinyl carbanions, samarium dienolate, -sulfonyl radical and difluoro-methylene radical. Recent preliminary investigation on the chemistry of samarium dienolate led to the potentially useful methods for the synthesis of anti-1,3-diolmonoester (Aldol-Tischenko reaction), and 1,3-aminoketone (samarium catalyzed Mannich reaction) and hence the 1,3-amino alcohol. These functional groups are prevalent in bioactive natural products. The scope and limitations of these reactions will be explored. The investigation on the chemistry of the difluoromethylene radical indicates that the reaction is potentially useful for the synthesis of gemdifluoro methylene compounds.


The studies toward the total synthesis of natural products will involve the exploratory research on the synthesis of anti-HIV pyranonaphthoquinones and the antitumor caged xanthones. The synthetic endeavor will provide the comounds and their analogues for further biological evaluations.


The drug discovery program has been and will be focused on the search for lead structures from plants with the following biological activities: anti-HIV, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant. The investigation will concentrate on plants from the genera: Gardenia, Polyalthia, Garcinia and Ventilago. Plants species that are currently under investigation are Ventilago harmandiana, Garcinia hanburyi, Mallotus spodocarpus, Ochna intergerrima and Diospyros variegata. Compounds from V. harmandiana and M. spodocarpus show promising anti-HIV and antitumor activities, respectively. Further development of these and other compounds will be undertaken. The drug discovery program is being carried out under a collaborative network involving researchers from Mahidol University, Chiangmai University, Khon Kaen University, Prince of Songkhla University and the Rajabhat Institute, Surathani.


Patenting some of the novel natural products will be considered. Compounds with anti-inflamatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant activities are potentially useful for cosmeceuticals and fruit preservation. These research results will be developed for public benefits and for local small companies.