Danheiser Named American Chemical Society (ACS) Fellow

Danielle Randall
June 19, 2017

Professor Rick Danheiser, the A.C. Cope Professor of Chemistry, is one of 65 members of the American Chemical Society (ACS) named ACS Fellows of 2017. The new fellows will be celebrated at the society's fall national meeting in Washington, D.C. this August.

The fellows program began in 2009 as a way to recognize and honor ACS members for outstanding achievements in and contributions to science, the profession, and ACS.

The ACS lauded Professor Danheiser's numerous innovative and elegant methodologies, including the Danheiser Annulation, the Danheiser Benzannulation, and cycloadditions of highly unsaturated conjugated molecules for the synthesis of complex carbocyclic and heterocyclic organic compounds. 

Through Professor Danheiser's sustained tenure as Editor-in-Chief of Organic Syntheses, he has championed reproducible, independently validated, and practical procedures for useful synthetic transformations. The ACS also praised him for advocating compellingly for increased reproducibility in chemical research.

Current investigations in The Danheiser laboratory focus on the development of new synthetic methods and strategies, and their application in the total synthesis of natural products and biologically important compounds. A major thrust of their current research is the design and invention of new cycloaddition and annulation strategies for the synthesis of carbocyclic and heterocyclic compounds. Many of the methods under study involve the application of unusual molecules and highly reactive species as building blocks for the construction of important classes of organic compounds. The lab is particularly interested in the chemistry of highly unsaturated conjugated molecules (such as vinylketenes, iminoacetonitriles, conjugated enynes, and vinylallenes), and unusually strained molecules such as arynes, cycloalkynes, and cyclic allenes.

The utility of the methods under development is being tested and refined through their application in the total synthesis of biologically active natural products. Recent accomplishments include the total synthesis of the antitumor antibiotic ascochlorin, the azulene antiulcer drug egualen sodium, and neurotoxic alkaloids isolated from poison dart frogs. Considerable progress has also been made toward the first practical synthesis of glycinoeclepin A, the hatching stimulus agent of the soybean cyst nematode, a major agricultural pest. Other studies focus on the synthesis of unusual polycyclic aromatic systems with novel electronic and spectroscopic properties. Finally, another area of research in the Danheiser lab focuses on the development of environmentally benign methods for organic synthesis. In this connection, for example, they are investigating the utility of supercritical water and carbon dioxide as reaction media for organic synthesis.