Essentials of Organic Chemistry

Essentials of Organic Chemistry 




For more years than I care to remember, I have
been teaching the new intake of students to the
Nottingham pharmacy course, instructing them in
those elements of basic organic chemistry necessary
for their future studies.

During that time, I have also
referred them to various organic chemistry textbooks
for additional reading. These texts, excellent though
they are, contain far too much material that is of no
immediate use to pharmacy students, yet they fail to
develop sufficiently areas of biological and medicinal
interest we would wish to study in more detail.

The organic chemistry needs of pharmacy students are not
the same as the needs of chemistry students, and the
textbooks available have been specially written for
the latter group.

What I really wanted was an organic
chemistry textbook, considerably smaller than the
1000–1500-page tomes that seem the norm, which
had been designed for the requirements of pharmacy

Such a book would also serve the needs of
those students on chemistry-based courses, but who
are not specializing in chemistry, e.g. students taking
medicinal chemistry and biological chemistry.

I have wanted to write such a book for a long time now, and
this is the result of my endeavours.

I hope it proves
as useful as I intended it

Whilst the content is not in any way unique, the
selection of topics and their application to biological
systems should make the book quite different from
others available, and of especial value to the intended

It is a combination of carefully chosen
material designed to provide a thorough grounding
in fundamental chemical principles, but presenting
only material most relevant to the target group and
omitting that which is outside their requirements.

How these principles and concepts are relevant to the
study of pharmaceutical and biochemical molecules
is then illustrated through a wide range of examples.
I have assumed that readers will have some
knowledge of organic chemistry and are familiar with
the basic philosophy of bonding and reactivity as
covered in pre-university courses.

The book then presents material appropriate for the first 2 years
of a university pharmacy course, and also provides
the fundamental chemical groundwork for courses
in medicinal chemistry, biological chemistry, etc.
Through selectivity, I have generated a textbook of
more modest size, whilst still providing a sufficiently
detailed treatment for those topics that are included.
I have adopted a mechanism-based layout for
the majority of the book, an approach that best
enables the level of detail and selection of topics
to be restricted in line with requirements.

There is a strong emphasis on understanding and predicting
chemical reactivity, rather than developing synthetic

With extensive use of pharmaceutical
and biochemical examples, it has been possible
to show that the same simple chemistry can be
applied to real-life complex molecules. Many of
these examples are in self-contained boxes, so that
the main theme need not be interrupted. Lots of
cross-referencing is included to establish links and
similarities; these do not mean you have to look
elsewhere to understand the current material, but they
are used to stress that we have seen this concept
before, or that other uses are coming along in due
I have endeavoured to provide a friendly informal
approach in the text, with a clear layout and easy-
to-find sections. Reaction schemes are annotated to
keep material together and reduce the need for textual
explanations. Where alternative rationalizations exist,

I have chosen to use only the simpler explanation
to keep the reasoning as straightforward as possible.
Throughout, I have tried to convince the reader
that, by applying principles and deductive reasoning,

we can reduce to a minimal level the amount of
material that needs be committed to memory.

Worked problems showing typical examination questions and
how to approach them are used to encourage this way
of thinking.
Four chapters towards the end of the book diverge
from the other mechanism-oriented chapters.

They have a strong biochemical theme and will undoubt-
edly overlap with what may be taught separately by

These topics are approached here from
a chemical viewpoint, using the same structural and
mechanistic principles developed earlier, and should
provide an alternative perspective.

It is probable that some of the material described will not be required
during the first 2 years of study, but it could sow the
seeds for more detailed work later in the course.
There is a measure of intended repetition; the same
material may appear in more than one place.

This is an important ploy to stress that we might want to look
at a particular aspect from more than one viewpoint.

 I have also used similar molecules in different chapters
as illustrations of chemical structure or reactivity.
Again, this is an intentional strategy to illustrate the
multiple facets of real-life complex molecules.

I am particularly grateful to some of my colleagues
at Nottingham (Barrie Kellam, Cristina De Matteis,
Nick Shaw) for their comments and opinions.

I would also like to record the unknowing contribution made
by Nottingham pharmacy students over the years.

 It is from their questions, problems and difficulties that
I have shaped this book.

I hope future generations of
students may benefit from it.
Finally, a word of advice to students, advice that
has been offered by organic chemistry teachers many
times previously.

Organic chemistry is not learnt by
reading: paper and pencil are essential at all times.

It is only through drawing structures and mechanisms
that true understanding is attained.






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