Texas A&M University chemistry professors Dr. Kevin Burgess, and Dr. John A. Gladysz are among 55 international chemists — 16 nationwide and three in Texas — announced as Royal Society of Chemistry Prize (40) and Royal Society of Chemistry Award (15) winners in the June and July issues, respectively, of http://www.rsc.org/AboutUs/News/RSCnews/RSC News.
The Royal Society of Chemistry is the largest organization in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences. Supported by a worldwide network of members and an international publishing business, the RSC’s activities span education, conferences, science policy and the promotion of chemistry to the public. For a complete list of winners and further information on individual 2013 RSC awards, visit: http://www.rsc.org/awards
Dr. Burgess, is a professor of chemistry and inaugural holder of the Rachal Chair in Chemistry, and Dr. Gladysz a distinguished professor of chemistry and inaugural holder of the Dow Chair in Chemical Invention at TAMU. Each will receive £2000, a medal and a certificate, and will deliver an invited lecture on their award-winning research at a location within the United Kingdom during the next academic year.
A TAMU release notes that The University of Cambridge led the field with seven recipients In this year’s RSC Awards, followed by the University of Bristol and Northwestern University (5 each), the University of Oxford (4) and Imperial College of London (3). Texas A&M was one of six institutions with two honorees to round out the multiple-winners list.
Drs. Burgess and Gladysz were recognized in the organic division, one of nine categorical areas highlighted within an overall recognition portfolio designed to reward outstanding work carried out by scientists in specialized areas spanning the breadth of the chemical sciences. Dr. Burgess received the Pedler Award, an annual honor recognizing contributions to any area of organic chemistry from researchers under the age of 55, while Dr. Gladysz earned the Organometallic Chemistry Award, which biennially celebrates trailblazing aspects of organic chemistry relating to the main group and transition metals.
“Each year research and teaching achievements by chemistry department faculty are recognized with national level awards,” Dr. David H. Russell, Applied Biosystems/MDS Sciex Professor of Mass Spectrometry in Chemistryand head of Texas A&M’s Department of Chemistry, is cited commenting in the release. “The RSC awards to Dr. Burgess and Dr. Gladysz reflect the high levels of impact of their research programs in a more global sense.” Specifically, Dr. Burgess was cited “for his important contributions in both synthetic and biological chemistry, such as the development of asymmetric hydrogenation and peptidomimetics, respectively.” Meanwhile, Dr. Gladysz was cited “for his diverse and creative contributions to synthetic inorganic chemistry, including new forms of coordinated carbon, metal-based molecular devices, fluorine-rich catalysts and chiral metal complexes.”
Since joining the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry in 1992, Dr. Kevin Burgess, a professor of chemistry and inaugural holder of the Rachal Chair in Chemistry, has built a research program around a diversity of interests, establishing himself as one of the most innovative and influential organic chemists of his generation in the process. Dr. Burgess focuses research focus is on synthesis and synthetic methodology to tackle problems of relevance to medicinal chemistry and biotechnology. An example: designing compounds, dubbed “Frankenstein molecules,” to disrupt protein-protein interactions that impact a host of diseases, including cancer, diabetes and neurological disorders. In addition, he is developing new fluorescent dyes to monitor these disruptions, paving the way for potential spectroscopic imaging tools useful in cell biology and pharmaceutically related areas.
Essentially, the current active projects of Dr. Burgess’s research group include:
• Syntheses, mediated by organometallic catalysts, of privileged chirons found in natural products;
• Syntheses of dipeptide mimics;
• Use of a special method to construct combinatorial libraries of molecules designed to disrupt or mimic protein-protein interactions; and,
• Syntheses of fluorescent through-bond-energy-transfer cassettes to facilitate observation of protein-protein interactions in cells.
Dr. Burgess’ research has attracted simultaneous funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and The Robert A. Welch Foundation. In 2012, he started his own company, Small Molecule PPI Mimics, to capitalize on some of his discoveries and further aid in research development. He also has edited a book, Solid Phase Syntheses, and authored an undergraduate problem text, Organic Chemistry By Inquisition, and has co-authored monthly contributions to the Highlights section of the journal Chemistry and Industry since 1985.
Dr. John A. Gladysz, distinguished professor of chemistry and inaugural holder of the Dow Chair in Chemical Invention at TAMU is a native of the Kalamazoo, Michigan area, has been a member of the Texas A&M faculty since 2007. Previously dr. Gladysz spent 10 years at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany, where he held the Chair of Organic Chemistry, and he has also had faculty positions at the University of Utah (1982-98) and UCLA (1974-82).
In his TAMU profile Dr. Gladysz says his research has traditionally been centered around organometallic chemistry, and from this core area branches into catalysis, organic synthesis, enantioselective reactions, stereochemistry, mechanism, and materials chemistry. About half of his group is involved with catalysis projects, with areas receiving emphasis including: (a) structurally novel new families of highly enantioselective catalysts, (b) metal-containing “organocatalysts” and (c) recoverable catalysts, particularly those with “ponytails” of the formula (CH2)m(CF2)nF; these can be recycled via “fluorous” liquid or solid phases, such as Teflon.
The other half of Dr. Gladysz’s group synthesizes organometallic building blocks for molecular devices. These include (a) molecular wires composed of metal endgroups and linear (sp) carbon chains, including stable species with C28 bridges, (b) analogs in which the charge-transmitting bridges are insulated by a pair of polymethylene or (CH2)n chains that adopt a double-helical conformation, (c) polygons and multistranded molecular wires based upon such building blocks, and (d) molecular gyroscopes and compasses consisting of a rotating MLn fragment and an external cage (stator) that insulates the rotator from neighboring molecules, exactly as with the commercial gyroscopes used for aircraft and space-station navigation.
Dr. Gladysz’s work has been described in more than 400 widely-cited publications and has earned him international acclaim, most notably an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Award for Senior Scientists (1995). He also has received the American Chemical Society’s Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (1988) and Award in Organometallic Chemistry (1994) as well as the International Fluorous Technologies Award (2007).
A longtime member of the ACS, The Chemical Society and the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker, Dr. Gladysz is a past Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow (1980-84) and Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Grant recipient (1980-85). A former associate editor of Chemical Reviews (1984-2010), the journal with the highest impact factor in chemistry, Dr. Gladysz has served since 2010 as editor-in-chief of Organometallics, the nation‘s top journal at the interface of organic and inorganic chemistry.