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Moravian College

Tony Rivera ‘16

Minor/Major:Biochemistry/Business Management
Hometown: Bethlehem
Advisors: Dr. Stephen and Dr. Shari Dunham

“Development of New Methods for Efficient Platinum Complex Syntheses"

Briefly describe your project.

My research for the 2015 SOAR project involved working with Platinum (Pt) metal compounds.  Platinum drug therapy has been around since the 1970’s, and the research is still ongoing to produce anti-cancer agents of better efficacy.  Part of my work has been to optimize the synthetic methods used to make some of these drugs.  This project shows use in developing a potential marketable drug known as picoplatin, which currently is in clinical trials.

Much of my work relied upon the use of spectra instruments, which measures atomic and molecular properties of the platinum metal in these reactions. The scope of this project has been to collect data so that I can validate the success of my work and compare my findings to other work in scholarly journals.

Describe the origin of your project.

The origin of my project derives from my independent research at Moravian College in the spring of 2015. The initial stage was Phase I of my research, where I worked with various research methods, investigated chemicals, identified the catalyst, and tested reagent dependency.  

What’s the best part about working with your faculty mentor? What valuable insights have they brought to your project?

The best part about working with my faculty mentors is gaining their professional doctoral experience.  Both Dr. Stephan and Dr.  Shari Dunham passed down their knowledge of work so that I know have the skill sets to do my research in the same manner done in graduate studies and commercial work.  My mentors know what it is like to be in my shoes, and encouraged my creative expressions over my work.  There insight into presenting data and collaborating in-group discussions has improved my ability to learn and find simple solutions to problems.   

What has been your biggest obstacle so far?

My biggest obstacle has been time.  Part of my work depends on results that I had to wait for, in order to move forward. Some results did not come out as expected, which was time used and time that could have been applied to completing other needed tasks.  

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

The takeaway from my experience is that I have better confidence over presenting my work in front of large audiences.  After my presentation experience at Moravian College and at Goucher College, I have less anxiety about getting up on stage and speaking about my work or what I have learned.  It was a great opportunity to learn from other researchers, and observe how they present their data.

What was the result of your project? Was it congruent with your hypothesis?

The result of my project is that the one pot synthesis works.  Thus far, Pt 195 NMR data shows that the synthetic method developed in this research yields a cis-dimixedamine platinum product in one pot, AA spectroscopy shows that my platinum experimental concentration is a 90% match to the theoretical concentrations calculated, kinetics show that over time concentration of the Pt reagent goes down while the concentration of the Pt product goes up, and my synthesis of picoplatin shows that the “One Pot Method” works on other mixed amine complexes.

Results gathered in the SOAR project support and match my expectations that the Abrams method has been optimized to a synthesis that is faster and yields less chemical waste.  

Do you think you’ll be able to extend on your research after this summer is over? If so, where would you like to see it go?

I do believe that my work in this project will go into Phase III, which is the last stage of collecting and organizing data for publication.  For this coming Fall 2015-16 semester, I plan on extending my research into an independent study.  There is more work that needs to be continued in the area of synthesizing other platinum complexes and collecting kinetics data for comparison.

Most importantly, I need to answer the question of cis & trans product formation in my synthesis, which I will experiment with 15N labeled isotope reagents or 1H NMR using a deuterium based solvent and working out chemical shift calculations.  Data from my research in the Spring 15 and SOAR project will be combined with the Phase III evidence to write up a scholarly report that is conducive to platinum complex synthesis.