University of Lethbridge C-CRAFT symposium to showcase power of fluorine and NMR spectroscopy

The first centre of its kind in Canada, the University of Lethbridge’s Canadian Centre for Research in Advanced Fluorine Technologies (C-CRAFT), presents a Symposium Celebrating NMR Spectroscopy and Fluorine Chemistry, Friday, December 5, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the U of L.

With plenary speakers Dr. Jean-François Paquin (Université Laval) and Dr. Klaus Schmidt-Rohr (Brandeis University) joining world-class researchers within C-CRAFT, the symposium will examine various applications of the element fluorine and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.

“C-CRAFT is the first Canadian centre focusing on research and training around the element of fluorine and brings together a unique team of researchers with a wide range of expertise,” says Dr. Michael Gerken, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the director of C-CRAFT. “While we were formalized as a centre nearly one year ago, this symposium is somewhat of a launch event for C-CRAFT.”

Fluorine is a unique element because of its reactivity in the elemental form and the large number of applications of fluorine compounds. For example, it has been estimated that 20 per cent of pharmaceuticals on the market contain fluorine and 30 to 40 per cent of agrochemicals contain fluorine.

“Fluorine chemistry is definitely a strength that is unique to the University of Lethbridge, and this centre is a way to build on that strength by getting together scientists who are interested in this chemistry in order to share knowledge, conduct research together and to provide services and expertise that are helpful to industry,” says Gerken.

The symposium will feature a host of talks throughout the afternoon, beginning with Paquin’s address at 1:10 p.m. when he presents Revisiting the Use of Fluoride as a Leaving Group. The U of L’s Dr. Stacey Wetmore follows at 1:50 p.m. as she presents Using Fluorine to Understand DNA Damage. At 4:20 p.m., Nora Foroud and Jim Miller of the Lethbridge Research Centre – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada present NMR Resolutions of Agricultural Traits: From Soil Chemistry to Crop Health.

“Since the centre was opened, we have added a 700 MHz NMR spectrometer, thanks to $1.6 million of funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Alberta Government and the U of L,” says Gerken. “NMR spectroscopy is a powerful technique that allows for even more in-depth study of fluorine compounds and can be used in trans-disciplinary studies by researchers of various departments at the U of L and from other universities, research institutes and industry.”

C-CRAFT and the magnetic resonance facility at the U of L are already gaining a reputation as the hub for fluorine researchers across Canada and worldwide to collaborate with each other and share their expertise on fluorine and NMR spectroscopy for areas such as pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, plastics, oil production, biochemistry and neuroscience.

The symposium, to be held in C640, features a total of eight presentations.