Our research activities concern the chemistry and biological activity of natural products with a focus on phenolic and quinonoid compounds. Our group and its closest collaborators gather reseachers skilled in all aspects of natural product chemistry, including extraction, structural characterization, chemical synthesis, biosynthesis, computer-aided molecular modeling and biological evaluation. Today, 60 to 70 per cent of all available medicinal drugs are derived or designed from natural products of various terrestrial and marine sources (i.e., plants, animals and microorganisms). Natural products will undoubtedly continue to be an important source of lead compounds for the development of novel preventive and curative chemotherapies against human diseases.

We are currently engaged in four main avenues of investigation:

(1) Exploitation of the oxidative dearomatization of phenols for the total synthesis of bioactive natural products

(2) Reactivity, synthesis and biological activity of plant phenols and polyphenols

(3) Design of antigenic peptidomimetics for the modulation of cellular immune responses

(4) Detection of functional proteins involved in the biosynthesis of flavonoids

Our special interest in the chemistry of phenols and polyphenols answers two of the challenges we decided to take up. First, in organic synthesis, simple phenols and their ethers remains underutilized starting materials for the rapid construction of complex natural products. Second, in biological chemistry, the therapeutic potential of plant polyphenols has so far remained untapped by the pharmaceutical industry, but we hypothesized that they can serve as useful chemical entities to probe various protein-protein interactions involved in the development of cancer and infectious diseases, among which infections by HIV and HSV, and malaria are the subjects of our current efforts.