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TSRI Scientist Elected to National Academy of Sciences

La Jolla, CA. May 2, 1996 -- K.C. Nicolaou, Ph.D., Chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Darlene Shiley Professor at The Scripps Research Institute, has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences. Members are recognized for their outstanding scientific achievements.

Nicolaou is well known for his work in developing compounds from nature into promising pharmaceuticals. While aspirin, derived from willow-tree bark, and penicillin, an agent first used by a fungus to kill bacteria, are early examples of his natural-products research, Nicolaou currently is studying several other molecules that demonstrate therapeutic potential. Following the total synthesis of taxol -- the anticancer drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of ovarian cancer -- he has designed a water-soluble, less toxic version of the drug that is being developed by a pharmaceutical company.

Another achievement and one of his most challenging, is the synthesis and study of brevetoxin B, a complex substance of the damaging "red tides" which also is a neurotoxin to animals, including humpback whales and humans. Also included in his list of accomplishments is the synthesis of the antitumor agent calicheamicin, the immunosuppressant rapamycin, the cholesterol-lowering compound zaragozic acid and the antifungal drug amphotericin B.

Nicolaou has been credited with a remarkable ability to choose synthetic targets that not only offer the opportunity for novel chemistry, but represent the cutting edge of biology and medicine. Once the chemical syntheses have been accomplished, he designs and synthesizes biological mimics of the naturally occurring substance to be used in biological investigations.

His awards and honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship (1984), a Humboldt Foundation US Senior Scientist Prize (1987), an A.C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society (1987), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Award (1988), the American Chemical Society Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry (1993), the Dr. Paul Janssen Prize for Creativity in Organic Synthesis (1994), the Alexander the Great Award, the Hellenic Cultural Society of San Diego (1994), the Rhone-Poulenc Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, London (1995), the William H. Nichols Medal, New York Section-American Chemical Society (1996), the Ernest Guenther Award in the Chemistry of Natural Products, American Chemical Society (1996), the Chemical Pionner Award of the American Institute of Chemists (1996), and the Inhoffen Medal of the Gesellschaft fÅr Biotechnologische Forschung mbH (GBF) (1996). He is the author or co-author of more than 350 publications, and recently released his second book, "Classics in Total Synthesis."

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