The Yu Group centers around the discovery of catalytic carbon—carbon and carbon—heteroatom bond forming reactions based on C—H activation. Target transformations are selected to enable 1) the use of simple and abundant starting materials such as aliphatic acids, amines and alcohols, and 2) disconnections that drastically shorten the synthesis of a drug molecule or a major class of biologically active compounds. Ultimately, the Yu Group hopes to develop catalytic reactions to parallel enzymatic transformations in terms of reactivity and selectivity.
To achieve this goal, their research activities are directed towards the following main aspects: C—H activation, sustainable catalysis, asymmetric catalysis and synthetic applications. Recent publications have highlighted the optimized steric hindrance and electronic effect of directing groups to functionalize ortho- and now meta-C—H bonds in high yields. By developing versatile ligand-enabled catalytic systems, Jin-Quan Yu has differentiated himself as a thought leader in enantioselective synthesis.