Assoc. Prof. Dr. Svilen Simeonov

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Svilen Simeonov was born in 1980 in the town of Ruse. He completed his secondary education there, in Baba Tonka Mathematics High School. In 2004, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Simeonov obtained master’s degree in organic chemistry at Faculty of Chemistry of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski. He began his scientific career as a III degree scientist at the Institute of Organic Chemistry with Centre of Phytochemistry – BAS. Subsequently, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Simeonov was awarded doctoral scholarship from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology and in 2014 completed his doctoral thesis at Faculty of Pharmacy of University of Lisbon, under the supervision of prof. Carlos Afonso. In the same year, he returned to the Institute of Organic Chemistry with Centre for Phytochemistry – BAS, where he is currently head of Organic Synthesis and Stereochemistry laboratory. In 2015, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Simeonov received UNESCO award for Leading Young Researchers “Green Chemistry for Life”. He is co-author of over 30 scientific publications in international scientific journals, including  Green Chemistry (IF 9.4), ChemSusChem (IF 7.8), Angewandte Chemie (IF 12.2), Chemical Reviews (IF 54.3), etc. The scientific publications of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Svilen Simeonov have been cited over 1,400 times,  and have h index 14. During the last 5 years, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Svilen Simeonov is the leader of two projects funded by UNESCO programmes and of one project funded by Reseach Fund; he is the coordinator for Bulgaria of a project under Horizon 2020 programme.

The main research interests of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Svilen Simeonov are in the field of organic chemistry and organic synthesis. The development of green technologies in the field of organic chemistry and biorefinery takes central place in the research of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Simeonov. The main scientific contributions of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Simeonov are aimed at developing new synthetic approaches for processing of carbohydrate fraction of waste lignocellulosic biomass into valuable chemical products, use of magnetic ionic liquids in high technologies and production of new biologically active compounds. In the past two years, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Svilen Simeonov has been actively working on development of a new synthetic platform based on the Ahmatovich regrouping, aiming to open new horizons for the use of furfural product obtained from waste biomass.

Summary of Project Regioselective Catalysis by Non-covalent Control: Obtaining Valuable Chemical Products through Remote C-H Functionalisation, VIHREN National Scientific Programme

Due to the widespread use of carbon-hydrogen bonds (CH) in organic molecules, their direct conversion into other functional groups has become one of the main scientific research in organic chemistry over this decade. In recent years, the map of modern organic synthesis has been redrawn with the discovery of increasingly effective methods of C-H bonds functionalising catalysed by transition metals, which reduce the number of synthetic operations and significantly reduce waste products. These modern approaches undoubtedly have their economic and social importance for production of high value-added chemical products, which cover wide range of complex structures and are used in high technologies.

However, despite their different chemical environment, the energy of C-H bonds is in a fairly narrow range, and therefore the differentiation between two C-H bonds and the selective functionalisation of only one of them within an organic molecule remains a key challenge. In the modern age of this field, only interactions, which can control the reaction selectivity, could lead to potential scientific and practical breakthroughs.

To address this challenge, the project proposes a new concept to precisely direct carbon–hydrogen bond functionalisation reactions, using specific non-covalent ligand-substrate interactions in a manner inspired by the unique catalysts of life – the enzymes. Through this approach, the project aims to provide new synthetic toolkit for directing catalytic processes to remote C-H positions, outside the scope of current technologies. The toolkit will cover a wide range of important substrates related to the bioeconomy of future and will be validated in practice by developing:

  • New methods for obtaining new organic molecules that have the required structural complexity in order to enter unexplored areas of biologically active chemical space and to discover new pharmacophores.
  • More effective and green methods for obtaining organic compounds that are important for medical chemistry, such as non-canonical amino acids, etc.
  • Targeted design of highly selective ligands for optimisation of chemical processes aimed at obtaining chemical products with high added value and application in cutting‐edge technology.