Innovations in Flow Chemistry: The Solution to Producing COVID-19 Test Kits

Nominated by:

Universities Canada

Year: 2023

About the Innovation

Dr. Michael Organ and his team have made outstanding, pioneering contributions to fundamental knowledge in flowed chemical synthesis. Dr. Organ is the mastermind behind the invention of a flow reactor that safely manufactures a key molecule used to prepare the PCR test kit for COVID-19. The reactor, designed and built in his lab, produces tens of kilograms of the target molecule monthly. Dr. Organ’s technology has contributed to COVID-19 tests performed around the world.

About the Innovator

Dr. Michael Organ was among the first academics to conduct research in flowed organic synthesis. Flow chemistry is the movement of chemical reactions through tubes or chips and has emerged as one of the most important technologies to safely manufacture fine chemicals (e.g., drug manufacturing). His group pioneered the use of microwave irradiation as a profound promoter of flowed reactions and coupled it to metal-coated flow reactors, which accelerated reactions of as much as 500X. Relying on several new process analytical technology inventions in his lab, his team has made leading inroads into real-time analysis of flow reactions. From this, they have developed robotically driven reactors, known as smart reactors, where the reaction data is fed back to allow synthetic processes to be optimized and production runs monitored without human intervention. At the outbreak of COVID-19, Dr. Organ was approached by Toronto Research Chemical (TRC) Inc. to design a reactor to safely and sustainably manufacture a critical molecule used to prepare test kits. The material produced from this reactor (still in use at TRC) was especially critical in assessing essential workers and freeing the world from lockdown. Organ has published 168 manuscripts and has an exemplary citation rating (Google Scholar: total citations: 14,239; H-Index: 57). He has been invited to deliver over 400 lectures, 85 as keynote or plenary lecturer. His work has earned him national and international recognition, including is the NSERC John C. Polanyi Award, the highest honour bestowed on a scientist in Canada for ground-breaking invention.

Dr. Michael Organ

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