Research in Synthetic Chemistry at TIFR merges the fields of organic chemistry, coordination chemistry, and materials to create novel molecules and platforms for a variety of applications ranging from sensors for in vivo imaging and drug candidates for treatment of diseases to dyes for solar cells.
An important thrust area is Chemical Biology which combines the fields of synthetic chemistry, molecular biology, and molecular imaging, to create novel chemical tools for probing biological systems. Visualizing bio-molecules in vivo allows early non-invasive diagnosis and more importantly brings forth most sought insights into disease onset mechanisms. Our department has a unique confluence of teams working on synthetic chemistry, materials, and spectroscopy focusing on developing new optical imaging techniques. This allows us to bring in synthetic chemistry insights to develop strategic chemical probes for molecular imaging and also test them for in vivo imaging applications. Another approach for imaging crucial biomarkers is to directly visualize bio-molecules in a label-free manner. We have been able to directly excite neurotransmitters with multiphoton excitation, and have been able to observe their dynamics in living cells and in brain tissue. An exciting new program in the department has been set up which designs molecules and materials for therapeutic applications.
Students in the Chemical Biology program thus have the opportunity to work in this newly emerging interface and delve into examining biological pathways of neurodegeneration, developing and applying medicinal chemistry principles, imaging metal ions and neurotransmitters in vivo, and developing probes for visualizing cell death and autophagy.