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Many investigations at The University of Arizona Cancer Center focus on the effects &/or mechanisms of action of chemicals as they pertain to cancer biology—causation, prevention, and intervention. The Synthetic Chemistry Shared Service (SCSS) was established to help meet the needs of Cancer Center members for consultation on chemical aspects of ongoing cancer research projects and custom synthesis of chemicals that are not commercially available, including compounds labeled with isotopes. Most Cancer Center research groups lack the instrumentation and expertise needed to carry out multistep chemical syntheses required to prepare such compounds.
The SCSS was established in 1993 as a component of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center (SWEHSC) and was expanded in 1998 to support research at the Cancer Center. While common in the pharmaceutical industry, the SCSS was one of the first “in house” synthetic services in a university-based comprehensive cancer center. An on-site service can be more responsive to the needs of members.
The SCSS is under the direction of Eugene A. Mash, PhD. Dr. Mash consults with members of The University of Arizona Cancer Center to help the investigator determine what compound(s) he or she may need, determines the feasibility of requests for synthesis, and ensures that requests fit the criteria of the service. He also oversees the laboratory work done by the SCSS research scientists, Jagadish Bhumasamudram and M. Ahad Ali.
Once a request for a synthesis is accepted, starting materials are obtained and the SCSS research scientists carry out the synthetic transformations necessary to create the compounds needed. In addition to unlabeled compounds, the SCSS also provides custom synthesis of stable isotope and radioisotope labeled compounds. Compounds from biological sources can be purified and identified when sufficient quantities are available.