William Jorgensen wins 2024 Arthur C. Cope Award for organic chemistry

Jorgensen, a pioneering computational chemist, is the first Yale faculty member to win the Cope Award since 1988.
William Jorgensen

William Jorgensen

William Jorgensen, Sterling Professor of Chemistry in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, has been named the recipient of the American Chemical Society’s 2024 Arthur C. Cope Award for his ongoing achievements in organic chemistry.

The Cope Award, established in 1972, is one of the most highly regarded honors in organic chemistry worldwide. In announcing the award, the ACS lauded Jorgensen for his “pioneering computational studies of organic chemistry in solution, development of free-energy methods, and demonstration of their utility in lead optimization for discovery of drugs.”

Jorgensen’s seminal research in molecular design and computational chemistry includes simulations of organic and enzymatic reactions, computer-aided drug design, and the synthesis and development of drug agents that combat HIV, inflammation, and cancer. In 2021, he and colleagues at Yale rapidly developed a new class of antiviral drug agents with the potential to create new therapies for COVID-19 and future coronaviruses.

For me, the Cope Award is particularly meaningful,” Jorgensen said. “It is always special to receive an award that has been received by others whom you greatly admire, in this case, including my Ph.D. advisor, E. J. Corey at Harvard, and Yale emeritus professor Ken Wiberg. The Cope Award predominantly has been awarded to centrist organic chemists, while my research has spanned between organic and theoretical/computational chemistry. Perhaps, our computationally guided discoveries of anti-HIV agents and inhibitors of the SARS-CoV-2 main protease were sufficient to pass the organic test.”

Jorgensen, who joined the Yale faculty in 1990, is the first Yale faculty member to win the Cope Award since Wiberg won the honor in 1988. The award comes with a $25,000 prize, a medallion, and an unrestricted grant-in-aid of $150,000 for research in organic chemistry.

Among Jorgensen’s other honors, he is the recipient of the prestigious Tetrahedron Prize for Creativity in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and he is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Chemical Society, and the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Sciences.

In 2021, he was selected as a Citation Laureate for his influential contributions to chemistry. According to the Web of Science, Jorgensen’s scientific publications have been cited more than 100,000 times.

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Fred Mamoun: fred.mamoun@yale.edu, 203-436-2643