Christian Strong

MIT Department: Chemistry
Undergraduate Institution: University of Texas at San Antonio
Faculty Mentor: Timothy Jamison
Research Supervisor: Katie McGeough
Website: LinkedIn


I was born in San Antonio, Texas, although I lived north of Dallas for fourteen years before my family and I moved to McAllen, Texas to take care of my aging grandparents. I am currently a Sophomore Chemical Engineering Student at UTSA with a focus in Bio-engineering. My primary research interests, however, are in medicinal and synthetic chemistry. Because of this, I work in Dr. Doug Frantz’s synthetic organic chemistry lab where I am working on a palladium sequestration project with applications in pharmaceuticals. I plan to pursue a doctoral degree in chemistry following completion of my undergraduate program so that I can eventually work as a medicinal chemist with a focus on process design.

2019 Research Abstract

Methodology Development Towards an Improved Synthesis of Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate

Christian Strong1, Katie McGeough2, and Timothy F. Jamison2
1Chemical Engineering Program, University of Texas at San Antonio
2Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Medical treatments have made it possible for individuals with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to live comfortable and healthy lives. Despite advancements in pharmaceuticals used to prevent the spread of HIV, and its progression into Active Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), many treatments are not available to vulnerable populations globally due to their high cost. Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate (TDF) is one such pharmaceutical that is currently synthesized in an overall yield of 24%. This low yield is due to multiple inefficient steps late in the process alongside the water sensitivity of the intermediate Tenofovir Disoproxil. The goal of this project is to optimize the synthesis of TDF by first reviewing previously explored methods followed by screening a wide array of milder reaction conditions, additives, and alternate pathways. Thus far, we have shown that a different solvent system, an alternate reactant partner, and milder operating conditions allow for a higher yield. Namely, use of the iodide alkylating agent in place of the chloride lends to a 50-degree reduction in temperature and a 5% higher yield in preliminary tests. Further optimization of this process could result in a cost reduction for the synthesis of TDF, allowing the drug to be more widely available.