A highly chemoselective conjugate addition of alcohols in the presence of amines is described. The cooperative nature of the catalyst enabled chemoselective activation of alcohols over amines, allowing the conjugate addition to soft Lewis basic α,β-unsaturated nitriles. Divergent transformation of the nitrile functionality highlights the utility of the present catalysis. The cooperative nature of a copper catalyst enabled the highly chemoselective activation of alcohols in the presence of amines and thus the conjugate addition of the hydroxy group to soft Lewis basic α,β-unsaturated nitriles. The presented method proceeds under proton-transfer conditions, reverses the innate reactivity of the OH and NH groups, and does not require protecting groups. dppe=1,2-bis(diphenylphosphino) ethane, MeSal=3-methylsalicylate.
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