What Motivates the Top-Scoring Students in Organic Chemistry?

Is it getting the best grade? Nope.

Is it feeling like organic chemistry is relevant to your career? Try again.

Is it feeling like you worked hard and prepared well? Surprisingly, no again.

The students who perform the best on organic chemistry are most motivated by a high confidence that they can and will succeed in organic chemistry (a principle generally called self-efficacy).

From an article published this year in the Royal Society of Chemistry, 2648 college organic chemistry students were given a survey, and their answers were correlated with their organic chemistry scores.

The survey consisted of 19 questions, which were split into 4 general motivational categories– relevance (eg, “My career will involve organic chemistry”), self-determination (eg, “I study hard to learn organic chemistry”), self-efficacy (eg, “I am confident I will do well on organic chemistry tests”), and grade motivation (eg, “Getting a good organic chemistry grade is important to me”). The full survey is shown at the very end of the article.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The results show that self-efficacy was most highly correlated with score in organic chemistry (correlation scores of 0.65 and 0.62 at 2 colleges). Therefore, the critical factor that motivates the highest scoring students is a simple belief that they can indeed get an A. Simply put, if you are highly confident you can learn organic chemistry, you are more likely to do better in the course.

 

The second highest correlated factor was self-determination, which is an indication of hard work and preparedness (correlation scores of 0.41 and 0.29 at 2 different schools). Look how much lower the correlation is between this and self-efficacy!

 

What does this mean for me?

  1. The highest correlation with organic chemistry grade is self-efficacy (essentially self-confidence that you can learn organic chemistry). This suggests that being confident in your ability to crush organic chemistry is more important than feeling like you study hard and prepare diligently.

 

Confidence is everything! This was by far the highest correlated factor that the study authors looked at.

 

  1. Students always say, “It’s stupid I have to take organic chemistry—it has nothing to do with medicine.” But guess what? To do well in organic chemistry, you don’t need to feel like it’s relevant to your future field at all! Because the top scorers in your class certainly don’t.

 

  1. Grade motivation was low! Interestingly, students across the board in this study said that they were highly motivated to get good grades. However, this was not correlated with organic chemistry scores.

 

Put another way, the students who were doing poorly were just as motivated to do well as students who actually did well. Many students feel that this is their major source of motivation, so it’s important to know that this doesn’t correlate well with success in the course (AKA: find another source of motivation).

 

Take Home Message:

Confidence is key in organic chemistry. If you don’t believe that you are capable of learning this tough subject, then the cards are already stacked against you.

 

Citation:

Austin AC, Hammond NB, Barrows N, Gould DL, Gould IR. Relating motivation and student outcomes in general organic chemistry. Chem. Educ. Res. Pract. 2018, 19, 331.

 

Full survey:

Does Gen Chem Grade Predict Organic Chemistry Grade?

At this point, you’ve likely heard it a hundred times—organic chemistry isn’t like any other course you have taken/will take in college. And this includes general chemistry, right?

 

Well, it’s complicated. So let’s take a look at some data. Since organic chemistry is such an infamous course, a surprisingly large amount of research has been done on different methods to teach the course most effectively.

 

One study looked at performance in general chemistry versus organic chemistry and found that there is a statistical difference between “A” and “B” students (p=0.000) and “A” and “C” students (p=0.000), but no difference was found among “B” and “C” students.

 

In plain English: if you did well in general chemistry, you are more likely to do well in organic chemistry.

 

What should we make of this?

The data clearly show that there is an undeniable relationship between organic chemistry grade and general chemistry performance. If you did well in general chemistry, you are more likely to do well in organic chemistry.

 

But it get’s more complicated when you try to think about why. Do general chemistry and organic chemistry share the same problem-solving abilities? Or is there simply just a group of highly motivated students who study a lot and therefore do better in general chemistry and organic chemistry (and probably their other courses too)?

 

Most likely, it is a combination of these. General chemistry is much more math-focused, while organic chemistry isn’t, instead relying on an understanding of conceptual application (you won’t need to use a calculator to do an organic chemistry problem). But if a student is a great problem-solver in general, then this skill might help in both organic chemistry and general chemistry.

 

Furthermore, if a student is extremely motivated to achieve A’s, then this student is of course more likely to score higher in both organic chemistry and general chemistry.

 

 

So what does this mean for me?

  1. If you did well in general chemistry, then great! There is a clear relationship between the grades in general chemistry in organic chemistry.
  2. If you did NOT do well in general chemistry, then that’s still okay too. Because there are other factors at play (such as intrinsic motivation) that certainly impact your grade.

 

Stay tuned next week for an in-depth review of the motivational factors that lead to the most success in organic chemistry (hint: simply getting an “A” in organic chemistry is low on the list).

The 3-Step Method to Successful Organic Chemistry Studying

Studying for organic chemistry isn’t like studying for any other classes you’ve taken so far in college. It’s all about concept application, rather than the fact regurgitation of biology and physiology classes.

To efficiently study for organic chemistry, we recommend a 3-step method: learn, retain, and apply.

 

 

1. Learn (~30%)

Read the textbook and go through your notes

This time should be devoted to gaining familiarity with the concepts and putting the material into a form that is digestible for you. This could be flashcards, outlines, etc.

Many students live in this phase of studying. They read the textbook once. Read it again. Then read it again… Not a good way of studying.

 

2. Retain (~15%)

Review the material you’ve already covered, so it’s not forgotten

This is the time where you retain the knowledge that you have organized so nicely in the learning phase (step 1).

Flashcards are an extremely effective way to ensure fact retention as you can rapidly test yourself on information very actively. You can quickly review definitions, reactions, or other key concepts that need to be memorized for the course.

Without this step, everything you learned in step 1 will simply be forgotten.

 

3. Apply (~55%)

Practice problems, practice problems, and more practice problems

This is where the money is made. Organic chemistry is all about doing practice problems.

On an organic chemistry exam, you will not be asked a definition or an isolated concept. Instead, you’ll be forced to apply a concept to a practice problem that you’ve likely never seen before.

Memorizing the definition alone is not enough (step 2). Knowing the concept is not enough (step 1). You need to apply your knowledge and memorized information to the practice problem you are given on the exam. This goes one step further than many of your previous college classes.

This application step is where you can separate yourself from the class. Do TONS of practice problems, and review every single answer (both correct and incorrect). Ideally, you would use a resource that gives you a full explanation for each question.

Exhaust all the questions in your textbook, and then find more questions.

 

 

There are many reasons students struggle in organic chemistry but living in the learning and retention steps above is one of the major ones. In courses like biology and physiology, it was possible to get by or even do well by only doing step 1 and step 2.

But to succeed in organic chemistry, it’s all about practice problems.

The Secret to Maximizing Office Hours

 

If you’ve ever been struggling with a college course (such as organic chemistry), someone has likely recommended “going to office hours” as a stock piece of advice.

 

But going to office hours by itself will not help you succeed in a college class. Not even if the Professor drops some gems about what will be on the test (although that might get you a few points…).

 

In reality, the benefit of office hours actually has very little to do with the time spent with the Professor. Instead, the vast majority of the benefit occurs in the preparation for office hours.

 

How could that possibly be? Let’s talk through a situation.

 

Today’s Friday. You’ve officially decided you’re going to be proactive this year in organic chemistry, so you’ll be at office hours on Monday.

 

But first, you have to find some good questions to ask. So you study throughout the weekend, and really pick apart the material you’re reading. You’re looking for thoughtful questions that won’t cause eye-rolling from the Professor and other students. When you come across a potential question, you first think it through, and try to solve it before writing it down as something to ask.

 

This is an example of active learning, the most effective and efficient way to study material.

 

Creating thoughtful questions is an extremely effective active study technique and going to office hours forces you to create these deep questions. Of course, while the answer to these questions is valuable, the most critical part of the whole process is the deep learning you do to think of the questions.

 

TL;DR: Coming up with thoughtful questions for office hours is a highly actionable way to force yourself to study actively.

 

The 5 Ways to Make the Most of Orgo Lecture

So you’re enrolled in Organic Chemistry. You’ve heard the horror stories and sat down on the first day in shock and awe as some older, mumbling professor talked about chemicals with long names and their properties. It’s going to be a long year.

 

Organic Chemistry lecture can certainly be overwhelming—from the material itself to the sheer number of science and pre-medical students in one place. With that being said, making the most of this crucial class time gives you a leg up on both learning the material and beating the curve. Simply put, class time is both valuable and limited so the following tips are here to help you squeeze every last benefit out of it.

A group of students in college lecture with one student sleeping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Grab that Coffee!

First things first, pay attention! This probably goes without saying but we all know how incredibly easy it is to walk in sleepily, zone out, or tell yourself you’ll just shut your eyes for a few seconds and go back over what you missed later. To combat this, try to get yourself into a routine where you are ready to go by the time your class starts. If it’s early in the morning, make sure you’re mentally (and physically) awake by then. If it’s later in the day, grab a bite to eat, drink some coffee, or listen to pump up music to give yourself a little boost beforehand. You could even have your friend in the class pinch you every two minutes—anything that isn’t bad for you and helps you stay alert and attentive.

 

2. Pre-Read the Material

In line with this, come to class prepared. This goes beyond bringing a pen and a notebook. Coming to class with a general understanding of what is going to be talked about helps in a variety of ways. For one, having seen the material once before means you have an idea of what you are having trouble with and what you understand well. Focusing on strengthening your knowledge in this way not only serves to help you learn, but it gives you a goal for a class that may provide more of an impetus to pay attention—see the paragraph before. Additionally, you’ll be able to confidently ask informed questions that can fill in the gaps in your understanding. Not to mention, this simultaneously shows your professor that you mean business. Can you say letters of rec, anyone? Flock of birds. Meet stone.

 

Regardless of your preferred class preparation method, you’ll need to find a study routine that works for you that makes the best use of your class time. For me, it was try to read about the subject before class, reinforce that material in lecture, and do practice problems after those two pass-throughs, but keep in mind that you know how you learn best.

 

3. Take notes– the right way

Now for the nitty gritty: note taking. If you’re one of those people who don’t need to take notes, you can skip over this paragraph. Since I believe there are very few people who honestly function best this way, keep reading. Hopefully, you’ve developed your own personal note-taking system over your years in school: format, abbreviations, organization techniques, etc. Hang on to those. Within your own framework, I have a few recommendations.

 

To start, learning science has shown that taking notes by hand may lead to better learning than taking notes on a laptop or tablet. This means ditch the tablet and pick up a pen, pencil, or quill and ink to boost those brain gains.

The benefits of writing out notes longhand versus using a computer

Muller PA & Oppenheimer DM. 2014. The Pen is Mightier Than The Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking. Association for Psychological Science

4. Summarize only the important details in a way that makes sense to YOU

Since you listened to my suggestion and already briefed yourself on the lecture material—see how all of these tips come together—you’ll have at least a vague sense of what the meat of the lecture will be. Critically thinking in this way helps better digest those more salient points.

How do you do this in a way that makes sense to you? For example:

 

The thermodynamics of the disconcerted SN1 mechanism depends on the stabilization of the carbocation in solution, which is inversely proportional to its reactivity

 

could become:

 

SN1 more likely when intermediate (+) charge more stable. Steps not simultaneous.

 

For me, the latter would help me understand SN1 more but, again, find ways that work for you. This also forces you to understand the material rather than regurgitate it, giving you genuine questions to ask when you can’t do so.

 

5. For the love of Galileo, keep your notes organized!

Knowing what topic, reaction, or example you’re talking about matters tremendously in order to keep everything straight, especially once you start doing tons of different reactions. If you want to go above and beyond, start each lecture on a new page (the trees will understand), date and number the pages, and use more than one colored pen for maximum organization.

An example of well-written organic chemistry notes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I can’t claim my notetaking method is perfect or always looked like this, something like this should be sufficient. Feel free to go above and beyond this though! Whatever works for you

 

6. There is no substitute for going to class

If your class offers any lecture capture or audio recordings, use them as needed; however, know they are NOT the same as going to class. Sure, they help when you are in a pinch but they aren’t as interactive and relying on them too much can send you spiraling into a cycle of skipping class, which is by far your most valuable resource for learning the material (to put a number on how valuable, see your tuition bill).

 

Summary

So how do you make the most of your organic chemistry lectures? Here’s the simple answer:

  • Find a way to be at your peak attentiveness and alertness for class time
  • Read the chapters/material before class so you can be engaged and ask good questions to foster understanding
  • Find a study routine that works best for your and incorporates the valuable class time
  • Take good notes by hand while using your own method to keep them concise, understandable, and organized
  • Don’t rely too much on the videos of the lecture and certainly do not let it replace in-person class time

 

Now you’re ready to tackle Orgo lecture. Go forth with confidence and happy studying.

 

 

chris

Simple Organic Chemistry Tricks & Study Aids

Let’s face it, we’re always looking for organic chemistry tricks and study aids to get a grasp on what is considered one of the hardest — if not the hardest — but ultimately rewarding courses in college. This post will aim to accomplish just that: we’re going to discuss different ways to help master learning concepts ranging from simple organic chemistry elimination reactions to isomerism.

Tip #1: Keep it simple

You’re not going to jump right into organic chemistry and intuitively understand isomers, enantiomers, Schiff bases, and so on and so forth. You need to be able to break things down into the fundamentals and understand simple organic chemistry before you can build upon it and grasp the advanced material. For example: learn the IUPAC naming system for molecules. That way, you can be able to name molecular structures, and then you can work backwards and draw the structures from the name.

Use Orgo Made Simple to learn organic chemistry tricks about topics such as elimination and isomerism to make organic chemistry simple.

By working your way up from the basics, you will be able to go from molecular name to structure and back again. 

Use the OMS naming guide, and you’ll be able to build up your knowledge and work your way up. From there, you can also practice drawing resonance structures and arrowing pushing, which is an essential skill to have in the rest of the course.

Tip #2: Practice, practice, practice

The best way to learn is through practicing, the tried and true method of trial and error. Get a hold of different practice problems and work through them. For example, once you’re able to draw structures from names, draw various isomers of that molecule. Now you can practice naming that isomer and seeing if you really get the hang of the IUPAC naming system.

Tip #3: MEMORIZE what you need to, LEARN the rest

It is an exercise in futility to try and memorize your way through the course. Instead, just learn what you need to — build up your mental orgo toolbox. Then from there, use those tools to work through problems and learn the concepts. One of the most important lessons that orgo taught me was to manage my time efficiently. I learned the IUPAC system, then I memorized the different functional groups. That way, I was able to avoid mindlessly memorizing which names correspond to which structures, and instead break the names down into components to “build” the structures. Furthermore, because I memorized the functional groups, when it came to learning organic chemistry elimination reactions I could quickly understand and predict which functional group would dissociate from the molecule.

Tip #4: Be positive!

Organic chemistry as a course is tough — there’s no doubt about it. But the individual components and concepts can be broken down, and if you stick with it and review the concepts regularly then you will succeed in the course. There will be highs and there will be lows, but just stay steady and confident, and before you know it you just might find yourself an organic chemist aficionado.

Miko

Chemistry of Thrones


Winter is coming, but — unfortunately for us “Game of Thrones” nerds — we are in the dead of summer and will have to wait for winter again for another year. To deal with the “Game of Thrones” withdrawal, I found myself going through some of the greatest (read: saddest, or most intense) moments in the series’ history: Brienne of Tarth vs The Hound, the Battle of the Bastards and, of course, the Purple Wedding.

However, in re-living Joffrey’s death, I came across a very interesting video that takes a closer look at the poison, “the Strangler.”

For those of you who have somehow forgotten about “the Strangler” and its role in one of the most monumental shifts in power in the HBO series — or, alternatively, if you don’t watch the show at all — here’s a quick recap: Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell are married and Joffrey uses that occasion to flex his power on anyone and everyone, instead of paying attention to his beautiful new bride. In his haste to assert the power of the crown and laugh at all those beneath him, he drinks a cup of wine that has been mysteriously poisoned. He quickly finds himself choking and unable to breathe, and before long, he suffocates to death.

What was in that spiked goblet of wine that caused his death? What chemical agent was in that drink that made it earn its nickname “the Strangler”?

Well, according to Dr. Raychelle Burks of the American Chemical Society, the active agent in “the Strangler” is likely strychnine, an alkaloid.

Strychnine_formula

An alkaloid is a naturally occurring organic chemical compound that contains mostly basic nitrogen atoms. They are often found (in salt form) in medicine. For example, morphine prides itself on being the original alkaloid and the first true drug. As anyone could tell you, morphine is extremely useful when in moderate to severe pain. Morphine in its proper dosage can be an effective method for managing pain; excessive use can cause a powerful addiction, and overdose can be fatal — as I have mentioned before, what determines if a substance is toxic or not is its dosage.

Strychnine was once popularly used by athletes as a stimulant, where low dosages were reported to subjectively give feelings of increased stimulation. However, it was more widely known throughout history for its incredible, horrible poisonous potential. Back in 1904, Olympic marathoner Thomas Hicks collapsed while competing, and it was likely due to the two milligrams of strychnine in his system that he likely used as a performance enhancer (though, as Ian Musgrave of “The Conversation” notes, it is impossible to tell whether it was due to the strychnine or the copious amounts of booze that he had — athletes seemed to try all sorts of stuff to achieve better results). It works by blocking a glycine receptor that’s involved with normal motor nerve function in the spinal cord; that is, it interferes with the inhibitory neurotransmitter system. It thus heightens sensitivity to stimuli and results in increased, spastic muscle contraction. A high enough dosage makes strychnine one of the most fearsome poisons in history, causing such devastating muscle contractions that stimuli can make a person’s contractions literally tear their body apart.

According to the International Business Times and Dr. Burks, George R.R. Martin’s books describe how “the Strangler” was extracted to be used for the assassination of the King: with a “wash of lime” and a “rinse of sugar.” Dr. Burks speculates that Martin doesn’t necessarily mean the fruit, but rather “lime” as in a limestone product: calcium oxide. She suspects that Martin meant to use calcium oxide as a reagent to extract strychnine from its plant, Strychnos nux-vomica. As for the “rinse of sugar”? Well strychnine, as are other alkaloids, is quite bitter — think of coffee! Thus to mask the characteristic bitter taste and to make sure that His Grace was none the wiser, Martin points out that a “rinse of sugar” was needed.

 

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Wait a minute, does this mean that Martin was a master of organic chemistry himself as well as a master of storytelling?

It would appear that this is what had happened to King Joffrey in King’s Landing. His Grace seemed to have had a goblet of wine that was spiked with a lethal dosage of strychnine. The alkaloid caused the muscles in his throat to clench so very tight — tighter than a fist, according to Dr. Burks and the Reactions video — that air was simply unable to pass throw his airway.

“Sometimes science gets a bad rap,” Dr. Burks said about science in the mainstream culture. “People think it’s dry or super serious. Pop culture is really a good medium to talk about science in a way that anyone and everyone can participate.” As we have shown here, science is a great way to connect what we see on the screen to nature and the real-life chemical world around us. It’s also a great excuse to rewatch a bunch of “Game of Thrones” clips.

Miko

Get to know cortisone

You’re at the gym, right? You’re really working your tail off, pushing yourself to the limit and really testing your body’s pain threshold — when all of a sudden, your muscles and joints are on fire. You realize that they are so swollen, and the inflammation is really holding you back from truly experiencing a good workout.

Enter cortisone.

2000px-Cortison.svg

Also known as corticosteroid, it is a 21-carbon glucocorticoid that is one of the main hormones released by the adrenal gland when someone is faced with stress (like acute pain in your muscles and joints). Cortisone works by suppressing the immune system — this helps when one suffers from autoimmune diseases, getting an organ transplant or (like our original example) when someone suffers from painful inflammation.

However, people should be careful and cognizant of their reaction to cortisone administration. The “cortisone flare” is seen amongst 2% of patients, in which injected cortisone shots actually crystallize in the area where the cortisone is administered, thus exacerbating the pain. Also, excessive shots administered to an area may cause the degradation of cartilage and tendons. If you do get multiple shots, you will likely be advised to receive them three months apart from each other to prevent this degradation. Diabetics should also be especially wary due to the possibility of hyperglycemia from cortisone shots.

Miko

The deuterium premium: how deuterating drugs can change pharmaceuticals as we know it

In medicine and the pharmaceutical industry, there is often the problem of finding the right dosage of drugs to properly and efficiently treat medical symptoms. When there is an inefficiency in dosage and effectiveness, it can lead people to self-diagnose and inappropriately increase their dosage, which may cause nasty side effects or even tragically leading to fatal overdose cases.

Thus, it becomes a necessity and a life-saving forgone conclusion that the dosage of medicine we are being recommended to take is truly right for us, and that the amount of drugs in our system is appropriate to perform their job. But in some cases, it is not uncommon for our bodies to metabolize these drugs too quickly, and the premature breakdown of these drugs might be the enabling factor behind our inappropriate increase in dosage.

The breakdown of certain drug compounds by their corresponding metabolic enzymes is achieved by those enzymes stripping the chemical compounds of their hydrogen atoms. So naturally, one can target the exact instance of when the enzyme extracts the hydrogen as the key moment that can help prevent premature breakdown of medical compounds. One way that many researchers and pharmaceutical companies are approaching this problem is through the switch of hydrogen in their compounds for deuterium, hydrogen’s heavier isotope.

This isn’t necessarily a novel concept that is being introduced to the pharmaceutical company. The first major example of a deuterated drug candidate to truly make strides in a clinical setting was the antibiotic fludalanine.

The deuterium in the chemical structure was substituted in for the purpose of blocking the formation of toxic metabolites. However, these same toxic metabolites later showed up in the blood of bronchitis patients, so that’s where that particular chapter ends.

But from the end of that, another chapter begins. In 2014, Dr. Scott L. Harbeson and Dr. Roger D. Tung re-opened the deuterium approach to drug innovation. In their paper, “Deuterium Medicinal Chemistry: A New Approach to Drug Discovery and Development,” they explain the premise of the renewed interest in the deuterium-hydrogen swap in drugs.

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“[Deuteration]  has the unique benefit of retaining the pharmacologic profile of physiologically active compounds while, in certain instances, positively impacting their metabolic fate,” the authors say. “In these favorable cases, deuterium substitution can in principle improve the safety, efficacy, and/or tolerability of a therapeutic agent.”

They sought to find out why there weren’t more deuterated agents for human use and application on the market, considering how “ a greater number of patent filings, the emergence of new companies focused on this area, and the recent entry of several compounds into clinical trials” highlighted a great potential for these new deuterated drugs to hit the market.

Harbeson and Tung explain how the carbon-deuterium C-D bond is heavier and requires more energy to cleave than a C-H bond. Thus this higher activation energy, in theory, would help in offsetting the premature metabolism of drugs with regular C-H bonds. However, it appears that due to mechanism complexities and a “masking” phenomenon involving the ratio of the rates of metabolic reactions between a regular “protonated” compound and its “deuterated” counterpart, there is still an air of unpredictability and challenge.

However, C&EN highlighted the potential of this isotope appeal and the increased safety and effectiveness of both pre-existing and new drugs. In your orgo class, you will likely hear about the importance of enantiomers and chirality, which is akin to the “left-” or “right-handedness” of a given compound. The classic example that many professors, my own included, like to use to underscore the importance of chirality, especially with compounds reacting in the human body, is thalidomide.

Thalidomide, or commercially known as Thalomid or Immunoprin, can exist as two enantiomers: one enantiomer causes the desired effects of alleviating morning sickness in pregnant women. The other enantiomer, unfortunately, can cause serious birth defects, including abnormal (or even missing) limbs, organs, etc. — absolutely horrific for the mother and child, and making it that much more important to pay attention to enantiomers.

Thalidomide-enantiomers

However, it’s also not as easy as simply choosing which enantiomer to administer to the patient and calling it a day: epimerization still happens, meaning that one enantiomer will interconvert to the other, and back again. This is where the potential importance of deuteration comes into play — by swapping deuterium in for hydrogen at the chiral center (where a molecule is distinguished between being left- or right-handed), in theory one can slow down that interconversion between enantiomers and selectively control which enantiomer they administer. In fact, this is exactly the project (amongst others) that DeuteRx are working on: using a deuterated thalidomide analog to act as an anticancer agent.

This may be all good and well, but you may be wondering how exactly is deuterium more relevant to your life in the immediate future? Where does it come from and how is it useful outside of the pharmaceutical industry?

Deuterium is found in naturally occurring deuterated “heavy” water, or 0.0155% of the hydrogen nuclei in Earth’s ocean waters. It can be extracted from different methods, one common method being the Girdler sulfide process (I’ll let someone else explain that process more thoroughly). Any chemist will tell you exactly how valuable deuterium is to their research. Though it may be a bit early, you will certainly be tested in your orgo courses on NMR spectra and how they work (which one can master with our “NMR Center”!). In NMR, it is important to use deuterated solvents. Being based on magnetic resonance, modern NMR spectrometers use the concentration of deuterium in solvents to stabilize the magnetic field strength and take accurate readings. Furthermore, since there is a lot more solvent in an NMR sample than there is compound that one is trying to study (usually to distinguish how many unique proton environments there are), it makes sense why deuterium is so important to lower the signal-to-noise ratio and obtain a “clean” reading.

The usefulness of deuterium has been so important and widely known by chemists for so long, and their application towards pharmaceuticals has renewed interest — and for good reason. Their incorporation into existing and new medicine could lead to increased effectiveness at lower dosages, thus improving so many people’s lives.

Miko

Get to know chlorothiazide

Chlorothiazide — also known as 6-chloro-1,1-dioxo-2H-1,2,4-benzothiadiazine-7-sulfonamide, or more commonly known as the commercial drug “Diuril” — is an organic compound that is used as a diuretic and an antihypertensive. The compound is a white, crystalline powder in physical appearance, and its functional groups and structure highlights its slight solubility in water and high solubility in sodium hydroxide.

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As was mentioned above, chlorothiazide is used as a diuretic and an antihypertensive. It essentially functions as a “water pill”: when administered, the body expels the extra salt and water in the system, lowering the person’s blood pressure through increased urination.

Gotta_Pee_Toilet_signs

How does chlorothiazide perform these functions? It prevents chloride reabsorption in a part of the kidney and urinary tract called the distal tube. Thiazides as a family of compounds cause a loss of potassium and an increase in uric acid in the serum. Furthermore, they inhibit sodium ion transport across renal tubular epithelia by binding to a thiazide-sensitive sodium-chloride transporter. What this amounts to, put simply, is an increase in potassium excretion.

Chlorothiazides  have been shown to act effectively as antihypertensives not necessarily because they promote urine output, but through promoting the activity of calcium-activated potassium channels in vascular smooth muscles while simultaneously inhibiting nearby proteins called carbonic anhydrases.

Miko