Regardless of where Organic Chemistry is taught, regardless of the genius and/or talent of the professor, and regardless of any variable that can be conceived, there is a percentage of students who will fail Organic Chemistry. The average midterm grade in Organic Chemistry ranges between 25-50%, hovering around 38% for classes having professors who challenge their students. Typically the first midterm includes concepts of acid-base chemistry, pKa, valence bond theory, Lewis structures, resonance, hybridization, alkane nomenclature, Newman projections and radical chain reactions. As the material is introduced, students of Organic Chemistry study in a manner identical to that which sufficed them since high school. Some periodically review their notes, and convince themselves they know the material. It’s not until 4 days prior to the first midterm that they begin working the problems.
Most points on Organic Chemistry exams are lost in weak areas that are highly preventable, i.e. areas requiring a constant “workout.” I’ve been keeping a mental tally for over ten years on where errors are routinely manifest, how they’re made, and how such errors can be avoided. You can read this article in less than five minutes, apply what is discussed, and increase the score on your next exam by a percentage directly proportional to the amount of energy you invest in strengthening certain areas.
Medicinal chemistry is the science of synthetic drug design, and involves the study of structure activity relationships (SAR) and their effects on chemotype activity and selectivity for a given biological event involving an enzyme or protein. Most people working in the field of medicinal chemistry have strong skills in synthetic Organic Chemistry, and have learned biochemistry, biology, molecular biology and pharmacology over a period of several years. Medicinal chemistry is the marriage of Organic Chemistry and medicine, aspiring to develop superior drugs for disease states across multiple therapeutic indications.
How does medicinal chemistry work, and how are drugs designed?
The mechanism of the Jones Oxidation is a rather detailed one, and tends to be intimidating at first. Oxidation and reduction reactions in Organic Chemistry appear to be perplexing to students from time to time. It’s not uncommon for me to observe a student attempting to oxidize an alcohol with LAH or reduce an aldehyde with PCC. If we’re doing a good job teaching these concepts, then why is it that the most common mistakes persist? I believe part of the problem rests in unfamiliarity with the reagents and the mechanisms behind them. So, how does the Jones Oxidation work?