Vol. 24, No. 2
and Structure Representation
sees the birth of a new division of IUPAC. Its conception dates from
a survey carried out in 1998 for the Organic Division, in which the
chemistry community was asked for opinions on future nomenclature requirements.
Comments received highlighted the increasing need for a body to oversee
IUPAC nomenclature development across all disciplines, to ensure compatibility
with previous work, and to coordinate related activities. The resulting
report1 drew attention in particular to the need to
integrate nomenclature standards with computerized facilities, and to
push ahead with efforts to define for each unique structure a single
preferred IUPAC name, correlated with other names in common use.
stimulated further consultation. A strategy roundtable in March 2000,
involving people from many professions with a need for standard chemical
identifiers, reinforced the views from the original survey and added
some important new items.2 In particular, the need
for a IUPAC standard for computerized representation of a chemical structure
recommendations led IUPAC's Executive Committee to establish a temporary
Committee on Chemical Identity and Nomenclature Systems,3
which developed plans for future management of IUPAC's nomenclature
work and launched the IUPAC Chemical Identifier project.4
The work of this ad hoc Committee culminated in a proposal for a
new IUPAC division. The IUPAC Council endorsed this proposal, stressing
the continuing importance to IUPAC of nomenclature and related activities.
And so, the Division of Chemical Nomenclature and Structure Representation5
was established on 1 January 2002.
What Will the New Division Be Doing?
importantly, it will bring together work on nomenclature of chemical
compounds with development of other methods of designating chemical
structures. The Chemical Identifier project is a first step in this
direction. It will also be tackling interdisciplinary issues that have
been difficult to deal with hitherto. For example, we have a project
group considering divergent recommendations arising from the development
of preferred names for organic compounds in parallel with revision of
the inorganic nomenclature rules. Also, we will study the applicability
of naming systems developed for polymers with particular reference to
macrocycles, rotaxanes, and catenanes. Additionally, we will be assessing
to what extent recent developments in conventional organic nomenclature
and phane nomenclature can allow us to deal conveniently with these
and other structures.
areas of activity will include the following:
to all chemical compounds of procedures for identifying IUPAC-preferred
and hyperbranched polymers
of synonyms for compounds in common use
Will the New Division Operate?
A division committee has been assembled consisting of 12 members
plus National Representatives, including people with extensive experience
in developing conventional nomenclature recommendations and others with
expert knowledge of computerized systems for designating chemical structures.
The division has an advisory
subcommittee of about 40 people, charged with advising the division
committee on the needs of the community, and developing project proposals.
This subcommittee contains many individuals with experience in nomenclature
work, as well as chemical software developers, journal editors, and
a range of other users of IUPAC recommendations. It is expected that
these people will lead or otherwise participate in projects as well
as provide advice to the division committee. Apart from meetings of
task groups, most of the subcommittee's work will be carried out via
electronic communication. A Web discussion board has been set up, to
which drafts of new recommendations and comments on them are to be posted.
Where possible, meetings of task groups will be organized to take place
concurrently, to enable informal discussions between members of different
groups. At suitable intervals (probably about every 5 years), we will
convene a roundtable meeting with the user community to review results
and define future requirements.
D. McNaught, UK
H. Powell, USA
Michael Hess, Germany
Herbert D. Kaesz, USA
G. Jeffery Leigh, UK
Gerard P. Moss, UK
William G. Town, UK
Antony Williams, USA
Stephen Heller, USA
Alexander J. Lawson, Germany
Bruce M. Novak, USA
de Barros Faria, Brazil
Jiasong He, China
Jean Marie François Toullec, France
Yohsuke Yamamoto, Japan
Osman Achmatowicz, Poland
Bernardo Jerosch Herold, Portugal
this way of working is quite new to IUPAC, and we shall need to adjust
our procedures as we gain more experience. However, this scheme will
allow better use of resources than previously, and will expedite the
development of the standards that the community needs.
arrangement also accommodates the IUPAC/IUBMB Joint Commission on Biochemical
Nomenclature, as a commission attached to the new division. This commission
meets jointly with the Nomenclature Committee of IUBMB and the combined
committee acts essentially as a single body. Its main responsibility
is the upkeep and development of the Enzyme List, a very substantial
and ongoing project.6 It is also increasingly involved
with standards for bio-informatics, needed to accommodate the explosion
of information on bio-polymers. In addition, JCBN has traditionally
dealt with specialist biochemical nomenclature systems (e.g., carbohydrates,
and this is where a close link with the new Division of Chemical Nomenclature
and Structure Representation is important. For nomenclature work, this
commission has always operated through project task groups, something
we envisage for future work managed by the new division.
not lose sight of the fact that IUPAC can retain a credible role in
nomenclature development only by paying close attention to the needs
of the community and responding to them. We need to give wide publicity
to the fact that IUPAC's project system now allows ideas for future
work to be developed by anyone. My colleagues and I welcome project
proposals7 from any source, and are happy to discuss
suggestions informally. Only if we have a clear view of what our "customers"
want can we hope to make the best use of IUPAC's resources.
McNaught is President of the IUPAC Division of Chemical Nomenclature
and Structure Representation. He is General Manager of the Production
Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK.