Speakers Bios for the October 25, 2019
Process Chemistry Symposium

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Donna Blackmond, The Scripps Research Institute

Research Focus
Kinetic Methodology. Blackmond has pioneered the development of Reaction Progress Kinetic Analysis (RPKA), a methodology combining highly accurate in-situ data collection with a rigorous mathematical analysis that permits rapid determination of concentration dependences of reactants. In contrast to the classical role of kinetics, in which measurements of concentration dependences most often are asked simply to corroborate a previously proposed mechanism, the Blackmond group’s approach is to employ kinetic studies at the outset of an investigation of ill-defined reaction network to suggest reaction mechanisms. This “kinetic-assisted mechanistic analysis” aids in the design of further supporting experiments including conventional mechanistic tools such as studies of isotope effects and spectroscopic studies for structural and compositional information.
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F. Dean Toste, University of California, Berkley

Dean was born in 1971 in Terceira, Azores, Portugal, but soon moved to Canada. While at the University of Toronto, he majored in Chemistry and Biochemistry and went on to obtain a M.Sc. in Organic Chemistry. He then pursued his Ph.D. with Barry Trost at Stanford and a post-doctoral appointment with Robert Grubbs at Caltech. Dean is currently a Professor of Chemistry at UC Berkeley.

Research in our group is primarily aimed toward the development of catalysts, catalytic reactions and methods for organic synthesis. Ultimately, we are interested in using these methods to address problems in the synthesis of complex molecules possessing interesting structural, biological and physical properties. As such, our research program spans the areas of organic synthesis, catalysis, and organometallic chemistry.


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Alison R.H. Narayan, University of Michigan

Title: Biocatalysis and complex molecule synthesis
Natural sources, such as plants, fungi and microbes, have historically provided compounds with potent pharmaceutical properties. While it can be challenging to build complex natural products in a lab using existing chemistry methods, Nature has perfected these biosynthetic pathways. The work described leverages the power of Nature’s tools for building complex molecules to synthesize novel molecules with therapeutic potential. The reactivity and selectivity of enzymes from natural product pathways are often unparalleled in existing chemical methods. Enzymes with potential synthetic utility are used as a starting point for engineering biocatalysts with (1) broad substrate scope, (2) high catalytic efficiency, and (3) exquisite site- and stereoselectivity. These biocatalytic methods are employed to efficiently synthesize biologically active complex molecules.
Alison Narayan's main research interest is identifying enzymes from secondary metabolite pathways with potential synthetic utility and developing methods based on these biocatalysts to enable access to biologically active target molecules.
Narayan holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. She completed her undergradaute studies in chemistry at the University of Michigan, where she later returned as a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab of David Sherman.
She started an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Life Sciences Institute at Michigan in 2015. Since this time Alison and her research group have been recognized as a part of C&ENs Talented 12, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, a Cottrell Scholar and as the inaugural recipient of the Life Sciences Institute Outreach award.
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B. Frank Gupton, Virginia Commonwealth University

The Gupton research group is focused on the development and application of new technologies that will streamline organic synthesis through process intensification. The goal of process intensification is to increase the overall efficiency and selectivity of chemical reactions by using novel chemistry and/ or running reactions under more extreme process conditions (temperature and pressure). We are interested in applying these principals towards the development of new catalyst systems that can be used in concert with continuous chemical processing (flow reactor technology) to streamline the synthesis of pharmaceutical active ingredients (API’s).

We have developed a series of palladium catalyst systems that can be used in cross-coupling reactions for batch and continuous operations and we are currently using these catalysts in the preparation of several API target molecules. These catalysts are composed of metal nanoparticles supported on novel carbon-based platforms such as graphene or carbon nanotubes. Our group has direct access to a wide variety of surface characterization methodologies to characterize these materials which have provided fundamental insights into their unusual catalytic activity.

We are also actively involved in the evaluation and integration of continuous analytical methodologies with continuous chemical processing in order to provide real time feedback and optimization of our processes.

Confirmed industrial speakers include:

Dan Bailey (Takeda)
Jason Tedrow (Amgen)
Don Gauthier (Merck)
Suzie Opalka (Biogen)

To see past speakers, click here.