This perspective represents a (highly personal) examination of the past, present and future of synthetic organic chemistry. The central thesis posits that the confluence of factors that led to the “Golden Age of Natural Product Synthesis” in the second half of the twentieth century can be traced back to the identification of the therapeutic potential of steroid hormones culminating in the introduction of oral contraceptives. The tremendous benefits of those activities to the development of organic synthesis as a vibrant discipline led to the exponential increase in strategies and methods and the ability to tackle, larger and larger molecules of greater and greater complexity. The existential challenge to the health of organic synthesis is whether a similarly dynamic future can be anticipated and if so, to what end and how. Musings on potential answers to those questions are presented.
- natural products
ASJC Scopus subject areas