Pioneering Organic Chemist Elected to Yale Board of Trustees

Renowned organic chemist Peter Dervan has been elected an Alumni Fellow to the Yale Corporation for a six-year term commencing July 1, 2008.

Dervan is the Bren Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. For 30 years he has been a leading scientist studying DNA — especially, the principles governing the recognition of DNA and the role small molecules might play in the regulation of gene expression important in human diseases. In 2006 he was awarded the country’s highest scientific honor, the National Medal of Science, “for his fundamental research contributions at the interface of organic chemistry and biology, and for his influence in education and industrial innovation.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree from Boston College in 1967, Dervan completed his Ph.D. degree at Yale in 1972. He spent a year at Stanford University as a postdoctoral fellow, and then began his association with Caltech as an assistant professor in 1973. Dervan served as chair of Caltech’s division of chemistry and chemical engineering from 1994 to 1999. Fifty of his former co-workers are on the faculty of leading research universities, including Yale.

Dervan is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He is also a foreign member of the French Academy of Sciences and the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina. His awards include the Harrison Howe Award (1988), Arthur C. Cope Award (1993), Willard Gibbs Medal (1993), Nichols Medal (1994), Maison de la Chimie Foundation prize (1996), Remsen Award (1998), Alfred Bader Award (1999), Max Tishler Prize (1999), Linus Pauling Medal
(1999), Richard C. Tolman Medal (1999), Tetrahedron Prize (2000),
Harvey Prize (2002) and Ronald Breslow Award (2005).

At Yale, Dervan was honored in 1998 with the Kirkwood Medal, which is jointly supported by the New Haven section of the American Chemical Society and Yale’s chemistry department, for “outstanding research contributions, theoretical orexperimental, in the physical sciences.” In 2005 he received the Wilbur Cross Medal as a distinguished alumnus of Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Last fall, Dervan joined the University Council, which advises Yale President Richard C. Levin and the other officers on selected academic and administrative issues. Dervan serves on the scientific advisory board of the Robert A. Welch Foundation and is the scientific co-founder of the biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences. Since 1997 he has been a member of the board of Beckman Coulter, a leader in the biomedical testing industry.
He lives in San Marino, California, with his wife, Jacqueline K. Barton, who received a Yale honorary degree in 2005, and is the father of two children: Andrew, who graduated from Yale College in 2004, and Elizabeth, who will join the Class of 2012.

Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325