The Medicinal Chemistry Group is a recent addition to the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Currently housed in the Center for Nanoscience, the startup’s mission is to collaborate with St. Louis-area researchers by providing chemistry work for local labs. The MCG was formed after Pfizer closed its St. Louis site last year and donated equipment to the group and the Center for World Health & Medicine at Saint Louis University.

“We started by supporting the Center for World Health & Medicine, which works on orphaned and neglected diseases like river blindness and childhood diarrhea which affects populations in mostly underdeveloped countries,” said John Walker, director of MCG, and a former Pfizer supervisor.

While Walker acknowledges that SLU is currently the MCG’s biggest client, he and his team are eager to support more groups needing chemistry work – especially of the synthetic and pharmaceutical variety.

“That is what we primarily specialize in,” Walker said. “And we offer competitive rates comparable to labs in China – but unlike those labs, researchers can simply drive down the road to see us if they need more information.”

MCG is already helping out UMSL scientists and will provide research opportunities for students.

The group is getting tons of support and recently received two grants: $200,000 from the St. Louis Life Sciences Project and $60,000 from the Missouri Technology Corporation.

Eventually MCG will move to ITenterprises at UMSL, which houses multiple startup companies formed by entrepreneurs in a variety of fields spanning information technology, life sciences and physical sciences, providing necessary facility, business development and mentoring resources along with access to UMSL faculty and students in all disciplines. Pfizer donated two mass spectroscopy machines worth $400,000 each that will be placed in the new MCG labs currently being built.

“The potential is very exciting,” Walker said.

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Kylie Shafferkoetter

Kylie Shafferkoetter

Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens

Biology student James Ott and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla pull weeds last week in the native gardens north of the Recreation Wellness Center.