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SOAR 2018 Andrew Bainbridge ’19

Andrew Bainbridge ’19

“Synthesis of an Anti-Tumor Rhodium Compound”

Major/Minor: Biochemistry and French
Hometown: Mohnton, PA
Project Advisor: Dr. Stephen Dunham

Describe your project.

The goal of this project was to design and synthesize an anti-tumor compound based off a dirhodium tetraacetate core. This involved several weeks of preliminary research and conceptualizing before the project began. Synthesis of the compound required a variety of synthetic methods and involved both organic and aqueous methods. Instruments used to analyze and purify the compound included HPLC, NMR, and GFAAS.

How did your project come about?

The conceptualizing of this project was a group effort. While the project was an extension of the current research of the advising professor, the initiation and direction of the project were mostly my responsibility.

What was the best part about working with your faculty mentor? What valuable insights did he bring to your project?

Dr. Dunham was incredibly easy to work with, always encouraging independence throughout the project both in thought and in action. His help in developing the initial idea of the project was invaluable to the final goal. Also, his instruction on the instruments needed to complete the project provided valuable insight that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my career.

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What was your biggest obstacle?

The biggest obstacle of this project was that it became necessary to change direction several different times during development. We began with the concept of using testosterone as the targeting molecule for the drug, but this had to be changed when we found that we did not have the proper facilities or licenses to work with controlled substances. We then switched to cholesterol, where we had difficulties purifying the compound from the solution. We finally ended up using folic acid as the targeting group, but even this had its difficulties, and we had to try two different synthetic methods—both organic and aqueous—to find the best method for ligand attachment.

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

The biggest takeaway from this experience is the real-life research aspect of science. The most important lesson of this is patience. Patience so as not to rush through important steps of the project and patience when the project does not go as expected.

Overall, how do you feel about being awarded this opportunity? Why should other students take advantage of the SOAR program at Moravian College?

This opportunity has been the most valuable of any experience during my undergraduate study. Not only did it give me an insight into the independent research aspect of chemistry, but it also assured me that I am heading toward a career that I will be able to enjoy in the future. Other students should take full advantage of this program so that they can gain this insight into their own fields.

Any plans to present this research outside the SOAR presentations?

I had the pleasure of presenting my research at the Landmark Summer Research Conference. I will also present this research as part of my graduate school admissions application, should I have the opportunity.