Jonathan Ellman named the Eugene Higgins Professor of Chemistry

Jonathan A. Ellman, newly appointed as the Eugene Higgins Professor of Chemistry, specializes in the design and development of new methods for synthesizing pharmaceutical compounds.

Ellman is affiliated with the Chemical Biology Institute on Yale’s West Campus. He pioneered the development of tert-butanesulfinamide chemistry, which has become one of the most extensively used approaches for the asymmetric synthesis of amine-containing compounds, a class of structures that is especially prevalent in pharmaceutical agents. Pharmaceutical companies now use this method for synthesizing drugs. His laboratory also focuses on C-H bond functionalization chemistry. In addition to his chemical synthesis projects, Ellman also explores the chemistry of processes within the body, and is developing chemical tools that will help researchers study how proteases — enzymes that regulate numerous biological processes — bind to other proteins.

Ellman joined the Yale faculty in 2010 after teaching since 1992 at the University of California-Berkeley and at the University of California-San Francisco. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he earned a Ph.D. at Harvard University and held a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California-Berkeley before he joined the faculty there.

The Yale scientist is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 2010 Pedler Award for his achievements in organic synthesis, the 2010 GlaxoSmithKline Chemistry Scholar Award, the Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, the Scheele Award (selected by the Swedish Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences), the Society of Biomolecular Screening Achievement Award, and the American Chemical Society Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award. He was also honored with a teaching award at the University of California-Berkeley.

Ellman serves on the editorial advisory boards of a number of journals. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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