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Dr. Robert Dewald, professor of chemistry

During his 47-year tenure at Tufts, Chemistry Professor Robert Dewald taught nearly 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students and served as a pillar for training undergraduates in Chem 1 and Chem 2, in addition to more advanced chemistry courses.

Professor Dewald's willingness to involve his students in research, mentor undergraduates in the sciences, or lend a helping hand to those seeking his counsel made a significant impact to the Tufts education of countless alumni.

To honor Dr. Dewald's legacy in chemistry and at the university, an endowed student research fund has been established in his name: the Robert R. Dewald Summer Scholarship Fund. This fund will provide summer stipends to students who are pursuing full-time research opportunities during the summer. Many of his students participated in such research opportunities during their years at Tufts, and today, student research has become a top priority of the president and provost.

The Robert R. Dewald Summer Scholarship Fund will make a significant impact on today's undergraduates pursuing research in chemistry and, most importantly, it will honor Dr. Dewald for generations to come. This year's recipients of the fund are Jordan Sisel (advised by Clay Bennett), "Application of Cyclopropenium Cation Promoted Glycosylation to the Construction of alpha-G1CNAc," and Eriene-Heidi Sidhom (advised by Krishna Kumar), "Ganglioside GM1 Tethered Analogues of Anti-Dietetic Drugs and Other Therapeutics."

Please make a gift by following the link to the Dewald Summer Scholarship Fund in the sidebar. To make sure your gift supports the fund, select "Arts and Sciences" under the "Select a School" dropdown menu, "Other" under "Select an Area", and type Dewald Summer Scholarship Fund followed by the amount of your gift.

For more information or for other methods of making a gift to the Dewald Summer Scholarship Fund, please contact Kosta Alexis in University Advancement at 617-627-4978.

The Work of the 2012 Dewald Summer Scholars

Eriene-Heidi Sidhom

Over the summer, Eriene-Heidi synthesized molecular constructs to target G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). These receptors are implicated in a wide range of diseases such as diabetes, pain management, inflammation, and calcium homeostasis. In general, GPCRs induce signaling, upon binding to an agonist, which leads to increased levels of secondary messengers, such as cyclic AMP leading to downstream effects within a cell such as regulating the expression of certain genes. The goal of the project is to make endogenous agonists and antagonists of GPCRs more effective through increasing their 'effective molarity' on cellular surfaces and aim to modulate GPCR activation using membrane anchors.

In particular, she worked on the synthesis of lipid-protein constructs concentrate these targets to lipid rafts where GPCRs have been also shown to co-localize. The organic synthesis and characterization of these constructs have been carried out and will be tested in cell studies in the coming months. Earlier studies of similar lipid-protein constructs have been previously carried out in the lab with promising results and have moved towards animal studies; she anticipates publications within the coming year. In the coming year, as part of her senior thesis, she will continue to study the trafficking pathway of particular lipids through the cell to potentially target intracellular GPCRs.

Jordan Sisel

Over the summer, Jordan studied novel methods to synthesize the T antigen glycopeptide. The T antigen is used to raise antibodies against cancer cells, and has been shown to be exceptionally useful in cancer vaccine research. The supply of these carbohydrate molecules is limited, however, due to difficulties involved with their chemical synthesis. In particular, both the yields and selectivity of most processes used to chemically synthesize the T antigen are low. To address this issue Jordan chose to examine the use of a new chemical glycosylation method developed in our lab, based on cyclopropenium cation activation, to synthesize this important molecule. The initial studies on model reactions were promising, and led to a publication that he coauthored in the European Journal of Organic Chemistry. The method outlined in this publication was not able to directly provide the target product, the T antigen. However, observations made during this time led to the discovery of a new method for glycosidic bond formation. This method is based on thioglycoside activation along with the use of diphenylsulfoxide, trifluoromethanesulfonic anhydride, and iodide. This new method appears to be a more powerful and selective glycosylation method. Specifically, it works with a number of substrates, which the cyclopropenium cation method does not. Jordan anticipates the publication of another manuscript based on this method soon. Once that is submitted, he plans to return to the study of the difficult synthesis of the T antigen as part of his undergraduate research.