A Statistical Modeling Approach to Catalyst Generality Assessment in Enantioselective Synthesis



Selecting the optimal catalyst to impart high levels of enantioselectivity in a new transformation is challenging because the ideal molecular requirements of the catalyst for one reaction do not always simply translate to another. In these reaction scenarios practitioners typically use the most general catalyst structure as a starting point for optimization. However, for many reaction systems and catalyst chemotypes the most general catalyst structure may be largely unknown presenting a significant limitation in catalyst application to new reaction space. Herein, we demonstrate that comprehensive statistical models can be applied to identify the most general catalyst for many chemical systems. These inclusive statistical models that encompass many reaction types can provide information about the relevant structural requirements necessary for high enantioselectivity across a broad reaction range. By validating this approach on diverse regions of organocatalyzed reaction space we discovered structurally distinct catalysts can in some cases provide similar levels of enantioselectivity. The second curious finding determined that the best and most popular catalyst systems may not be equivalent. Validation of this approach on a multi-catalytic dearomatization reaction resulted in the discovery that our general catalyst findings allowed for streamlined reaction development for highly complex transformations.