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The Molecular Design and Synthesis Center (MDSC) provides consultation and support in all aspects of chemical synthesis for investigators across the Vanderbilt campus. The main focus of the center is to provide access to high quality tool or probe molecules to support investigator’s biological studies. Importantly, the MDSC can engage in small molecule probe design and optimization during early stage HTS (High-Throughput Screening), often in collaboration with the VICB HTS core facility. Examples include resynthesis of original HTS hit compounds for activity validation and medicinal chemistry optimization of primary hit compounds. The MDSC staff and directors have extensive experience in all aspects of complex molecule synthesis and early probe development. Research projects are generally divided into two groups: Service-Based Work and Probe/MedChem Discovery.


Service-Based Work
Service-Based Work involves requests for the synthesis of a single target compound in quantities ranging from milligrams to multi-grams. These may be compounds reported in the literature or novel compounds designed or discovered by the investigator. Requests for the synthesis of unreported and/or custom-designed compounds often requires collaboration with biological groups to evaluate the desired function such as a particular phenotype or activity in a biochemical assay. Past probe requests include fluorescent probes for pharmacological assays, photoaffinity probes for target identification studies and, in collaboration with the Imaging Institute, PET probes to validate target engagement using in animal models.


Chemical Probe and Early Lead Discovery (for a detailed discussion of chemical probe and early drug discovery, see: Lead Discovery and Development Pathways)
For discovery projects, the desired characteristics of the chemical probe for biological study needs to be defined. Desired characteristics of the probe will typically include desirable potency and/or selectivity goals. A robust and operational quantitative screen or assay needs to be available in order to achieve the investigator’s stated goals. Probe development works best if the assay has a capacity commitment and if at least one non-phenotypic screen can be used as a primary assay or to confirm results.


Citing the Molecular Design and Synthesis Center, VICB
If the MDSC lab provides compounds that are used in your publication, please use this acknowledgement: Compound “X” was provided by the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology, Molecular Design and Synthesis Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37232-0412.