Zerong Wang, PhD, is a full Professor at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, Texas. Prior to that, he worked at the Institute for Biological Sciences of the National Research Council of Canada for several years. Through his career, the author has gained specific training and expertise in organic chemistry, particularly in physical organic chemistry and other subdisciplines that include photochemistry, spectroscopies, carbohydrate chemistry, sulfur chemistry, nucleosides and heterocycles, materials science, reaction methodology, computational chemistry, among others. Dr. Wang has developed research projects relating to sulfur chemistry, computational chemistry, nucleoside analogs, heterocycle chemistry, materials science, and macromolecules (pillarene, calix[n]arene, and melamine-based dendrimers, etc.) and has received 22 research grants, including from NSF-MRI, NSF-STEM, Welch Research Grant, Welch Departmental Research Grant, and University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Faculty Research and Support Fund (FRSF) Grants. The author has developed two compendiums in organic chemistry to date. While conducting research activities, the author also teaches courses for both graduate and undergraduate students. Dr Wang is the author of Amino Acids: Insights and Roles in Heterocyclic Chemistry.

Read our exclusive Q&A to learn more about Zerong Wang's perspectives.


Good day, and welcome to this exclusive interview featuring Dr. Wang, a distinguished author renowned for his comprehensive contributions to the field of Organic Chemistry. Dr. Wang's previous works include the acclaimed compendiums "Comprehensive Organic Name Reactions and Reagents" and "Encyclopedia of Physical Organic Chemistry."

Today, we have the privilege of discussing his latest work in collaboration with Apple Academic Press, encompassing five remarkable books organized into two engaging book series: the four-volume set "Amino Acid: Insights and Roles in Heterocyclic Chemistry" and "The Chemistry and Biology of Beta-Lactams." Dr. Wang, thank you for joining us.

Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to discuss my latest work with you.

To commence, could you elaborate on the inspiration behind your exploration of amino acids and their pivotal roles in heterocyclic chemistry?

Certainly. Amino acids, as the fundamental building blocks of life, have perpetually intrigued me due to their vital roles in various biochemical processes. They serve as linchpins in proteins, enzymes, and numerous biological pathways. In the realm of heterocyclic chemistry, a-amino acids emerge as indispensable components for crafting a diverse array of heterocyclic compounds. These compounds encompass hydantoins, thiohydantoins, 2,5-diketopiperazines, N-carboxyanhydrides, N-thiocarboxyanhydrides, sydnones, sydnonimines, azlactones, and oxazolidin-5-ones. These heterocycles have far-reaching applications in drug development, materials science, and other domains. The fusion of a-amino acids and heterocyclic chemistry in my research was a natural progression, propelled by the boundless potential for innovation.

Your first offering, a four-volume set on amino acids, appears to be an exceedingly comprehensive endeavor. What content and insights can readers anticipate from these volumes, and who constitutes the target audience for this extensive collection?

The "Amino Acid: Insights and Roles in Heterocyclic Chemistry" series is meticulously crafted to furnish readers with an exhaustive exploration of α-amino acids' reactivity. Within these volumes, readers will embark on an immersive journey through the intricate chemistry of a-amino acids. Topics span the nuances of the interaction between amino groups and carboxyl groups, a challenge effectively navigated through the utilization of over 100 meticulously developed protecting groups and their associated deprotection procedures. Moreover, the volumes expound on a multitude of synthetic methods, facilitating the direct conversion of a-amino acids into the aforementioned heterocyclic compounds. Practical researchers and scientists can also delve into a treasure trove of experimental procedures for synthesizing these heterocyclic compounds, complemented by detailed elucidations of some reaction mechanisms. Our primary audience encompasses researchers, scientists, and graduate students actively immersed in the domains of organic chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, and materials science. Educators seeking to infuse the latest insights on a-amino acid protection and heterocyclic compound synthesis into their teaching materials will also find these volumes to be a valuable resource.

Remarkable! Could you illuminate us with a key insight within your books?

Certainly. One particularly captivating insight is the pivotal role played by a-amino acids in the synthesis of the aforementioned heterocyclic compounds, many of which exhibit remarkable pharmaceutical potential. These heterocyclic structures often serve as the foundational scaffold for a myriad of drugs. A profound understanding of the intricate chemistry underpinning a-amino acid-based heterocycles empowers researchers to engineer more efficient and precisely targeted drug molecules. This advancement carries profound implications for the development of innovative therapeutics and the enhancement of existing drugs.

Transitioning to your second work, "The Chemistry and Biology of Beta-Lactams," what spurred your interest in this specific subject, and what can eager readers anticipate from this compelling volume?

The study of beta-lactams holds paramount significance within the realms of medicinal chemistry and biology. These molecules form the cornerstone of some of the most widely prescribed antibiotics in history, including penicillin and cephalosporins, which have unreservedly saved countless lives. My fascination with beta-lactams emanates from their extraordinary chemistry and their pivotal role in combatting bacterial infections. It's important to note that beta-lactams are derivatives of β-amino acids.

Within "The Chemistry and Biology of Beta-Lactams," readers are poised to encounter a comprehensive exploration encompassing the biological activity of over 200 beta-lactam compounds, categorized into more than five distinct groups. This comprehensive volume includes updates on over 20 databases dedicated to beta-lactamases, elucidation of drug resistance mechanisms in beta-lactams, a multitude of synthetic methods for beta-lactams, and practical applications of beta-lactams. This book caters to researchers, pharmacologists, and students captivated by the realm of antibiotic development and the intricate machinery governing antibacterial mechanisms.

Your contributions are undeniably significant to the scientific community. Before we conclude, could you offer your perspective on the broader implications of comprehending a-amino acids and beta-lactams in today's complex world?

Indeed, a-amino acids, as the elemental building blocks of life, harbor immense importance. Their chemistry and multifaceted roles in diverse biological processes serve as cornerstones for advancing our understanding of biology itself. Simultaneously, these insights fuel innovation across domains, including drug discovery, materials science, and biotechnology. In essence, a-amino acids lie at the heart of the ongoing biotechnological revolution.

Turning to beta-lactams, the global concern regarding antibiotic resistance looms ever larger. Beta-lactams are indispensable in the treatment of bacterial infections. A deeper comprehension of their chemistry and biology is imperative in the quest to develop new antibiotics and effectively counter the rising tide of drug-resistant bacteria. The urgency of this endeavor cannot be overstated, as it represents a race against time to outpace the evolving pathogens threatening global health. Research in this arena is unequivocally vital.

Thank you, Dr. Wang, for sharing your profound insights into these captivating subjects and your invaluable contributions through your books. We eagerly anticipate the trailblazing discoveries and further exploration that your work will catalyze within the fields of a-amino acids and beta-lactams.

It has been my pleasure, and I extend my gratitude for affording me this platform to engage in dialogue on these pivotal realms of research. I trust that my books will serve as catalysts for ongoing exploration and groundbreaking discoveries within the domains of amino acids and beta-lactams.