New members join the group

Welcome to the new group members. These members are:

Rimsha Irfan for BS senior year project

Sana Iqbal for MS research work and

Aqsa Naeem for MS research work.

Ayesha, Rida and Qamar graduate

Congratulations to Ayesha Amjad for the completion of BS and to Rida Ibrahim and Qamar Hayat Khan for the completion of MS in Chemistry from LUMS.

Working in labs


Lab Safety:

  • The lab safety is our utmost priority of the department because the safe lab practices can help avoid occupational injuries and illness to the researchers and damage to the instruments and the lab. We advise following all the lab safety rules including:
    • No compromise on PPE: PPE is important for personal protection from any accidental splashing or spills. So, we in LUMS follow a no-compromise-on-personal-protective-equipment policy.
    • Proper labeling: Proper labeling of all the glassware, equipment, reaction flasks, vials, Eppendorf tubes etc… is important for better record keeping and also avoid any unwanted loss of the chemicals by yourself or during cleaning by anyone. The reaction taking place in the fume-hood should also have appropriate labels on it so that in case of your absence from the lab and any mishap, attendants could identify the contents and take appropriate action.
    • Risk factors: R-values of the compounds provide information about the hazards associated with the chemicals and you should read the R-values of the compounds that you are using from the MSDS website. The website will also guide you towards proper disposal methods.
    • Organic solvents: The organic solvents pose health or fire hazard. So, the organic solvents should only be used inside the fume-hood. Use of organic solvents in the sink is not allowed as the vapors would spread in the lab and affect the health of everyone working in the lab.
    • Column chromatography: The column chromatography should be done inside the fume-hood to avoid the spread of solvent vapors in the lab and any hazard associated with the drop/breakage of column or test tubes.
    • Waste disposal: Disposal of each type of waste should be done according to its nature/type in appropriate waste-bin so that these could be treated according to their type.
    • Rotavap: When you rotavap the solvents, use appropriate pressure so that the solvent would be collected in the collection flask and not go into the environment. Further, once you are done using rotavap, you should empty the collection flask so that others can use it and any unwanted reaction between your chemicals and the chemicals of the next user could be avoided.
    • Logbook: Logbook data is very important for us to track the usage of an instrument. Make sure you fill in the logbooks associate with the instruments every time upon use.
    • Fume hood: If you are not around, your fumehood sash should be closed. If the sash is not closed, any mishap in the hood can spread into the lab or something may accidentally fly into the hood to affect your reactions. Further, the open sash uses more electricity leading to wastage of resources.
    • Be vigilant: You need to be vigilant for not only your reaction and belongings but also for the happenings around you as an accident could happen because of an error by anyone in the lab and may affect all working in the area.
    • Ask! If you are unclear about anything, then ask the senior members of the group, staff members or your faculty.
    • Action: In case of violation of safety rules, the department may take appropriate action that may include another safety training, separation from the lab or program.
    • Try to be an example that others can follow.

Working in Lab

  • No working alone: There is no working alone in the off-hours or weekends. This is to make sure that if any mishap occurs someone will be around to attend the incident.
  • No working late-hours as routine: Starting work late in the day and finishing late as a route is highly not recommended. You should start your research work around 9 AM in the morning to finish it in a timely manner to go home and relax in the evening and spend time in literature reading. You should only stay late on days when you are doing extra-work or you need to meet the deadlines.
  • Issuance/return of chemicals/glassware: The chemicals and glassware are issued to the researchers on appropriate forms after signatures of the researcher and supervisor. If the glassware or chemical belongs to some other group, signatures of the supervisors are also needed as he/she might have ordered chemical/glassware for his/her project and may or may not be able to give it to you. You should follow the proper protocol of issuance of the chemicals and glassware and you will be responsible for the glassware and chemicals that you have issued. You should not pick any chemical or glassware from any place in the lab or store without permission as that might be issued to someone or might be placed there for some general lab experiment. Further, since the resources are limited we recommend that you do not store chemicals and glassware for long durations with yourself and return those as soon are you are done using those.
  • Breakage: You are expected to report glassware breakage in a timely This helps us to update our inventory in a timely manner with new purchases.
  • No working in other organizations: Since your degree is a full-time commitment, so your full dedication is required to complete it in a timely manner. You should be available for the whole duration of your degree program to full-time work in the lab.
  • Project understanding: You need to develop an understanding of the project. You should be able to drive the project forward.

Setting up a reaction

  • Study before setup: As it is said “A month in the laboratory can often save an hour in the library” You should devote appropriate time in understanding the reaction that you are tasked to set up, read appropriate literature. This will avoid any unnecessary wastage of time and resources in the lab.
  • No unauthorized experiments: If you have an idea of your own and plan to test that in the plan, you are expected to first have proper literature survey and then a discussion with your supervisor about the reactions and workup. You are not allowed to set up unauthorized experiments/procedures.
  • Complete the reactions: Spend appropriate time in reaction work-up, we do not want students to rush into setting up multiple reactions and not conclude any of those to extract useful data. Further, upon completion of each reaction, discuss the findings and future directions with the supervisor.
  • At least 200 mgs! If you prepare a new compound that we need to characterize through NMR and biological evaluation, make sure to provide me at least 200 mgs of each of such compounds in properly sealed & labeled

Maintaining a record of work

  • Data keeping: You are responsible for maintaining a proper record of each experiment in the lab-journal and electronically (as per your supervisor’s advice).
  • All data: You are expected to maintain the record of all the experiments that you perform.
  • Nothing leaves the premises without permission: Your lab journal and your research material should stay in the lab. Nothing should leave the lab without your supervisor’s permission.
  • Honesty! You are expected to report all the results with honesty and there should be no fabrication or misstatement of data or results.

Work ethics

  • Report in a timely manner: Report the research progress in a timely
  • Swift communication: Respond to emails and other communications in a timely
  • Avail the opportunity: Use the time in LUMS as an opportunity for growth and gain maximum out it by working hard and make effort to achieve assigned research goals.
  • Accept & improve: Learn the habit of accepting mistakes and improving yourself (do not get into the habit of giving excuses).
  • Listen to supervisor/committee members: Pay attention to the advice of your supervisor and committee members. They are here to help you achieve your goals.
  • Do not compare: Since each research project has a unique set of work demands so you should work hard in achieving your assigned goals and not compare your work with others within the group or across the groups.
  • IP: The experiments that are performed in the lab and the concluding results are the intellectual property of LUMS and your supervisor oversees them.
  • Authorship: At the time of publication, authorship is assigned based on the scale of effort put into completing the work being published.
    • In case, if you are assigned a project but leave it incomplete despite available time and supervisor assigns the project to someone else to complete it, then he/she will re-evaluate your contribution and may assign the first authorship to a person who actually completes the project.
    • If you have not prepared a chemical that is pure, then the right of claim of synthesis will go to a person who will report the pure compound.

Check out rules

  • You should understand that while your stay in your supervisor’s lab could be for a few months to a few years, but as a research project spans over multiple years and involves multiple batches of students and researchers, so you may leave and later on someone might need to consult your notebook or need the chemicals/materials that you have prepared to advance the project or for the paper write-up purposes. So, at the time of leaving the institution, you will be responsible for
    • Handing over the notebook and data to the supervisor (notebook should be complete in all aspects).
    • Completing all the data that was supposed to be maintained electronically.
    • Handing over synthesized compounds (final products and intermediates of all work at LUMS) in duly labeled vials to the supervisor.
    • Returning the glassware and anything else issued to you from the department/school/university.

Congratulations Sharon and the team

The Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering believes in the concept of “no boundaries” where faculty members from different fields can team up and unearth novel solutions to prevailing scientific questions.

The field of cancer research provided a similar opportunity for the research groups of Dr Rahman Shah Zaib Saleem (Department of Chemistry & Chemical Engineering) and Dr Amir Faisal (Department of Biology). The two groups have been working together in preparing novel organic compounds and evaluating their anticancer potential with a focus on overcoming multidrug resistance (MDR), a major problem limiting the success of cancer therapeutics. In this regards, the team has published their latest article titled, ‘Synthesis and evaluation of novel α-substituted chalcones with potent anti-cancer activities and ability to overcome multidrug resistance’ in the journal Bioorganic Chemistry.

Chalcones — natural or synthetic compounds with various biological activities — are scaffolds of interest for the team. The modification of their structure through organic synthesis could produce compounds with interesting properties such as anticancer activity with the ability to overcome multidrug resistance. In the current work, the group synthesised a library of alpha-substituted chalcones and evaluated them for their ability to kill the cancer cells. This resulted in the identification of compounds that could kill the colorectal and breast cancer cells at very low concentrations (sub-micromolar GI50 values). The most active compounds stopped the division of cancer cells and had the ability to overcome drug resistance in MDR cancer types.

The research work is part of the PhD research of Ms. Sharon Riaz who said, “MDR is an emerging imperil to chemotherapy. Therefore, it is imperative to design and discover new lead compounds with the potential and ability to overcome MDR.”

Dr. Amir Faisal said: “This research is a continuation of our efforts to synthesise and discover anticancer compounds that overcome multidrug resistance, a major challenge to the successful treatment of many types of cancers. This also reflects on the strong ongoing collaboration between our two groups that brings together our expertise for improved scientific output. Our work on chalcones has resulted in three publications in high-quality journals and we aim to continue working together. Research for all these publications was carried out by students (MS and PhD) and research associates in both the labs.”

Dr. Rahman Shah Zaib Saleem said: “The drug discovery and cancer research transcends traditional boundaries of the disciplines. SBASSE provides an excellent interdisciplinary environment where the two groups from Chemistry and Biology are working closely to bring novel solutions to on-going challenges.”

To articles can be accessed here

News on LUMS page:

Congratulations to Ansa et. al. for a nice piece of work

Synthetic chemistry is the art of constructing molecules, sometimes large and complex, from smaller building blocks. Synthetic chemists seek to minimise the number of steps involved in the preparation of a target molecule because it reduces the time, cost and energy. Methodology development, a key research area within synthetic chemistry is even more pronounced in developing compound libraries in the process of hit-discovery during drug development.

Methodology development is a strong research interest of the Organic Chemistry Research Group led by Dr. Rahman Shah Zaib Saleem at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering (SBASSE). The group is seeking to use multicomponent reactions (MCRs) to address a common stumbling block in synthetic chemistry: efficient, clean synthesis to obtain multifunctional compounds. In this regard, the team has developed a one-pot three component reaction to synthesise 2-aminoimidazolones – a structure that is found in many natural products with demonstrated biological activities.

This research work was carried out by Ms. Ansa Haneef as a part of her Master’s degree at LUMS, Ms. Aniqa Sardar, a teaching fellow at LUMS and Ms. Haniya Tariq, currently a chemistry junior.

‘The designed MCR offers good yields and allows possibilities for constructing novel libraries to explore their potential,’ said Ms. Haneef.

Ms. Sardar also shared her thoughts about the project, “Natural marine products are an important reservoir of bioactive compounds, and many of them contain the imidazolone ring. Synthetic methodology developed by our group would enable construction of analogous natural products for subsequent evaluation of their bioactivity.”

Ms. Tariq declared her experience of working on this research project an excellent training opportunity to prepare herself for graduate studies.

“I am encouraged by the current study to develop new synthetic routes for even more complex molecules. Complexity of structure does not necessarily equate with more steps in a reaction scheme. It all comes down to clever manipulation of the chemistry of molecules to provide an elegant solution to achieve the desired complexity in the compounds,” said Dr. Saleem. He is also looking forward to screening these compounds for bioactivity in future studies.

The article can be accessed here:

News at LUMS website:
Twitter (@RahmanSZSaleem):


Congratulations Usama Farukh and Ibrahim Javed for publishing their work in Bioorganic Chemistry.

A range of debilitating human diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease and type 2 diabetes (T2D) are associated with misfolding of certain proteins and their subsequent aggregation into toxic fibers, called amyloids. These diseases differ in the type of the protein involved, location of aggregation and clinical manifestations but share a common mechanism of stacking and fibrillization. Human Islet Polypeptide (hIAPP) is a protein that is synthesized, stored and secreted together with insulin and helps in gastric emptying in healthy individuals. However, in response to metabolic stress and spiking blood sugar levels, hIAPP misfolds into β-sheets, self-assembles into amyloids and shuts down the insulin production, leading to T2D.

The research group led by Dr. Rahman Shah Zaib Saleem at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering is currently working on synthesis and identification of new small organic molecules that can target, bind and prevent hIAPP aggregation, keeping it in its native state. Recent outcome from this project is published in Bioorganic Chemistry, a prestigious journal in the field of medicinal chemistry research. The research titled, ‘Synthesis and identification of novel pryidazinylpyrazolone based diazo compounds as inhibitors of human islet amyloid polypeptide aggregation’presents a lead molecule (research code name SSE15314) that completely inhibits hIAPP fibrillization. The work was carried out at LUMS by student, Syed Usama Bin Farrukh (during his MS research work) and Ibrahim Javed at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University.

“Drugs that are currently available in the market either sensitize the production of insulin, exhausting the remaining insulin producing pancreatic cells, or lower down the glucose production in liver. Drug molecules that inhibit the toxic aggregation of hIAPP in the pancreas, can provide effective opportunities to treat the basic etiology of diabetes at early stages,” shared Syed Usama Bin Farrukh.

‘’While aggregating, amyloid proteins can cross-talk with each other and induce the onset of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease in a diabetic patient or vice versa. Targeting the basic aggregation phenomenon in amyloidogenesis with a single drug molecule, together with efficient delivery systems, can target multiple protein-misfolding diseases in one shot,’’ said Ibrahim Javed.

“Drug discovery is a long process and the identification of a lead compound is just a start,” said Dr. Saleem. He is confident that the optimization of such small molecules could lead further down the road to new potential drug candidates against diabetes and other amyloid diseases.

The article can be accessed here.

Coverage on LUMS website:

@LifeAtLUMS’s Tweet about our work:

Sumiya joins the group as a research assistant

Sumiya Iqbal joins the group as research assistant. She will be working on the synthesis of drug-loaded nanoparticles with an aim to study/overcome the drug resistance in certain bacterial strains.

Ayesha joins the group for BS senior year project

Ayesha Amjad has joined the group for her BS senior year project. She will be working on the synthesis of novel oxadiazole containing compounds followed by synthesis and evaluation of their nanoparticle.

Farhat and Humera join the group as PhD students

Farhat Firdous and Humera Baig have joined the group as PhD students. Farhat will be working on HEC funded research project on centrosome declustering and Humera will be working on the HEC funded project on meta-free organic dyes for dye-sensitized solar cells.

Rida and Qamar joins the group for her MS research

Rida Ibrahim and Qamar Hayat Khan have joined the group for their MS research work. Rida will be working on the anti-cancer compounds and Qamar will be working on the organic dyes for solar cells.