Organofluorine chemistry has played a significant role in the majority of the spectacular scientific and technological developments of the past century although this is not widely recognised even by the scientific community. Fluoroorganic molecules are key components in an ever increasing number of high-value commercially important products particularly in the life science industries. The use of fluorinated systems in drug discovery programmes has continued to grow and, at present, approximately 30% of new pharmaceutical and agrochemical systems that enter the market bear fluorine atoms or fluorinated substituents, contributing enormously to the economic wellbeing of the EU as a whole and the health of its citizens. All useful fluoroorganic systems are ‘man-made’ and the key step in developing new products and applications involving fluorinated derivatives is the synthesis of carbon-fluorine bonds. We will develop new selective fluorination processes by using both innovative chemoselective methodology and the emerging field of synthetic biology to provide new technology platforms beyond the current state-of-the-art.
The desire to introduce a fluorine atom into an organic system is often driven by the fact that the C-F bond imparts unique and highly tuneable control of both geometric and stereoelectronic phenomena within a molecular structure. The Network’s expertise in handling and analysing fluorinated molecules will allow us to engineer the properties of organic and biological molecules through the strategic introduction of C-F bonds by molecular editing. A large number of world-leading research scientists in academia in the various fields of organofluorine chemistry have retired in the recent past and, consequently, if training of ESRs and support of youthful research groups is not continued, the EU will lose very competitive, highly valuable, high technology, research expertise that contributes significantly to all chemical, life science and materials sectors.