New thesis puts an end to sulfur steaming chemistry labs


In a new thesis, Marcus Söderström, PhD student at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, introduces a method to add sulfur in larger molecules without – congratulations all chemists – the characteristic smell. Marcus defends his thesis Wednesday 20 December at the Uppsala Biomedical Centre.

Marcus Söderström, Faculty of Pharmacy, Uppsala University
Marcus Söderström, Faculty of Pharmacy, Uppsala University

In his thesis C1 Building Blocks: New Approaches for Thiomethylations and Esterification, Marcus Söderström, PhD student at Uppsala University, shows how the reagent Dimethylsulfide combined with activator Boron trifluoride enables efficient addition of small sulfur containing building blocks into organic molecules – a welcome addition to the chemical toolbox.

“In my master's project, I tried a range of reagents to implement sulfur and got it right with Dimethyl sulfide. The result resulted in my PhD assignment, where we successfully applied the model to additional molecular structures, which has in turn generated several different sulfur-based functional groups,” says Marcus Söderström.

Marcus Söderström's thesis
Download and read Marcus Söderström's thesis

Dimethyl sulfide is already widely used in organic syntheses, but less often as a reagent in sulfur chemistry. With Marcus Söderström's thesis, it is likely that this organic compound will advance its position in the fume hood, not least since the new method can be conducted without exposing lab colleagues to the distinctive smell of sulfate.

“Admittedly, it was not the main purpose of our study, but quickly became a much-appreciated bonus in our own laboratory. Now we hope that our results will reach far beyond Uppsala as well, while we are currently discussing how to continue the development of our new method.”

Marcus Söderström graduated from Uppsala University's Master of Science Programme in Pharmacy 2018 before being recruited to a PhD position at Professor Luke Odell's research group in Preparative Medicinal Chemistry at the Faculty of Pharmacy. On Wednesday 20 December, he will defend his thesis at the Uppsala Biomedical Center.

“After that, the road is open, but with my mind set on a continued career in academic research, a postdoc position is close at hand, preferably with a focus on early medicinal chemistry and the development of new antibiotics. Ask me again on December 21 and I will likely know more, says Marcus Söderström.


  • Marcus Söderström defends his thesis at BMC, room A1:111a, Husargatan 3, Wednesday 20 December, at 13.15.



Marcus Söderström, pHd studentMarcus Söderström, pHd student
Department of Medicinal Chemistry

Text & Photo: Magnus Alsne

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Last modified: 2021-05-31