Morten Meldal – University of Copenhagen

Morten Meldal

Title: Professor
Phone: +45 353 20458
Address: Department of Chemistry
Nanoscience Center
Universitetsparken 5

2100 København Ø
Office: DS08

Nano Science Research 

My research interests include: sugar and oligosaccharide chemistry, combinatorial chemistry, "click" chemistry, polymer chemistry, organic synthesis, automation in synthesis, artificial receptors and enzymes, nano-assays, biomolecular recognition, enzyme activity, cellular assays, molecular immunology, nano-scale MS and NMR, resin-encoding, catalysis and material sciences.

In my work during the last decade I have focused on the merger of organic chemistry and peptide chemistry on solid support.

In 2001 we introduced the well-known CuAAC click reaction which has been extremely useful in both chemistry and in bio- material- and polymer sciences. It has allowed us to click, shape and tailor biomolecules, as molecular LegoR, into functional biomimetics through orthogonal formation of triazoles. Triazoles can now be formed with exquisite selectivity even within the cell and are true mimetics of both peptide bonds and disulfide moieties. This click chemistry has also significantly influenced the fields of functional polymers and of chemical biology.

I have devised a large range of novel methods based on the highly specific generation of N-acyl iminium ions involving a in situ formation of peptide aldehyde and reaction with backbone or sidechain amides. This INAIC-reaction yields complex large heterocyclic systems from peptides upon intra-molecular cascade reaction of n-acyliminium with C-, N-, O- and S-nucleophiles. The INAIC-reactions provide pharmacologically valuable compounds. Combinatorial libraries of these compounds has been generated and screened for GPCR active substances in cell-based on-bead screening using functionalized PEGA supports.


I have developed the concept of organozymes, peptide-organic molecules that fold around transition metals and chelate these through phosphines, carbenes and heterocycles and act as enzyme like chiral catalysts on solid support. These catalysts have an enormous potential for use in green chemistry. Along the same lines he developed peptide based cage like receptors that recognize e. g. sugars water.


I also introduced a solid phase peptide synthesis technique based on protection of the amino acid amine as an azide that allowed clean and strong activation as acid chloride and synthesis of highly sterically hindered oligomers of alfa-branched dialkyl and diaryl amino acids not accessible through other methods. Furthermore, the solid phase assembly of peptides using the azide protection facilitated orthogonal chemistries required for glycopeptide assembly.


Most recently, new materials based on fiber enforced polyacrylates with covalent fiber incorporation has provided an unusually strong renewable bio material to replace plast. This material is simple to produce (e.g. in third world countries) and could find general application as a substitute for oil based polymers.