Internationally-known organic chemist comes to Canisius

Thu, Feb 12th 2015 02:10 pm
CANISIUS COLLEGE  [ View Original Article ]

BUFFALO, NY - The Canisius College departments of chemistry and biochemistry will welcome internationally-renowned organic chemist Phil S. Baran, PhD, to campus on Friday, March 13 at 1:00 p.m. in the Montante Cultural Center, located at the corner of Main Street and Eastwood Place. Presented under the auspices of the Paul G. Gassman Memorial Seminar at Canisius College, Baran's lecture is entitled "Studies in Natural Product Synthesis." The event is free and open to the public.

Baran is the Darlene Shiley Chair in Chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA and considered among the most brilliant of young organic chemists. Sometimes referred to as a "molecule magician" Baran specializes in creating complex molecules derived from natural resources. His particular expertise is to create rare and complex molecules, derived from life in the sea, using elegant and often environmentally-friendly methods with the aim of producing useful quantities of these potential medicines.

Baran's list of completed syntheses is long and inspiring, and includes the full synthesis of ingenol mebutate, a first-in-class drug sold as Picato gel to treat actinic keratosis, a condition that can lead to skin cancer. In 2007, he published a landmark paper that served as a manifesto for his approach to synthesis, and applied it to create a range of pure marine natural products.

Baran's remarkable research has resulted in nearly 150 peer-reviewed journal articles, four patents and a book. His work has also been recognized with the conferral of many scientific honors and awards. Both the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have inducted Baran as a fellow. He is a recipient of the American Chemical Society Award in Pure Chemistry, as well as the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, which recognizes individuals who demonstrate the ability to transcend traditional boundaries, take risks and persevere in the face of obstacles, and have the capacity to synthesize disparate ideas and approaches.

Baran's career has followed a meteoric trajectory. He graduated from New York University in two years with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and then joined the lab of K.C. Nicolaou at The Scripps Research Institute, where he earned his PhD in less than four years. Baran served as a National Institutes of Health Post-Doctoral Fellow at Harvard University in the lab of E. J. Corey before landing his independent position as assistant professor at Scripps at the young age of 26. Here, Baran rose through the academic ranks to attain the position of full professor just five years later. Soon after, he received a dual appointment in the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, also at Scripps, and earned an endowed chair in the Chemistry Department.

The Paul G. Gassman Memorial Seminar at Canisius College was established in 1993 with an endowment from the late Paul G. Gassman '57, PhD. Gassman was a Regents Professor of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota from 1973 until his death in 1993. He is most renowned for his research in the field of organic chemistry.


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