Jin-Quan Yu, PhD

Bristol Myers Squibb Endowed Chair in Chemistry
Frank and Bertha Hupp Professor of Chemistry
Department of Chemistry


Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Faculty, Graduate Program

Research Focus

Rational-design and unexpected discovery of new reactions through C-H activation 

Our program centers around the discovery of catalytic carbon-carbon and carbon-heteroatom bond forming reactions based on C-H activation.  Target transformations are selected to enable 1) the use of simple and abundant starting materials such as aliphatic acids, amines and alcohols, and 2) disconnections that drastically shorten the synthesis of drug molecules or a major class of biologically active compounds. Ultimately, we hope to develop catalytic reactions to parallel enzymatic transformations in terms of reactivity and selectivity. To achieve this goal, our research activities are directed towards the following main aspects: C-H activation, sustainable catalysis, asymmetric catalysis and synthetic applications.

Major components of training for students are organometallic chemistry, asymmetric catalysis (synthesis and characterization of organometallic complexes as catalysts or intermediates; ligand design for chiral control or acceleration) and organic synthesis (in the context of drug discovery and natural product synthesis). We collaborate extensively with computational groups via NSF center (Professor Jamal Musaev, Emory University, Professor Ken Houk, UCLA), as well as pharmaceutical and agrochemical industry (BMS and Syngenta) and Aldrich. We have research projects on the following topics: C-H activation (how to cleave C-H bonds without using forceful conditions?); Catalysis (how to close catalytic cycles under practical conditions?); and Synthetic applications (how to shorten synthetic routes for natural products and drug molecules?).


Ph.D. (Chemistry), University of Cambridge, 1999
B.S. (Chemistry), East China Normal University, 1987

Professional Experience

2007-2010 Associate Professor, Chemistry, Scripps Research
2004-2007 Assistant Professor, Chemistry, Scripps Research
1999-2003 Junior Research Fellow, St. John's College, University of Cambridge
2001-2002 Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University

Awards & Professional Activities

* ACS Elias J. Corey Award for Outstanding Original Contribution in Organic Synthesis by a Young Investigator, 2014
* Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences, 2013
* Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2012
* Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, 2012
* Mukaiyama Award, Society of Organic Synthesis, Japan, 2012
* ACS Cope Scholar Award, 2012
* Bristol-Myers Squibb Award, 2012
* Novartis Early Career Award in Organic Chemistry, 2011
* Hirata Memorial Lectureship Medal, Nagoya, 2010
* Distinguished Faculty Award of Chinese-American Chemistry & Chemical Biology Professors Association, 2009
* Eli Lilly Grantee Award 2008
* Amgen Young Investigator's Award 2008
* Sloan Research Fellowship 2008
* Journal Award for Synlett & Synthesis 2006
* Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award 2004
* Royal Society University Research Fellowship 2003
* Fellowship of St John's College, University of Cambridge (JRF) 1998
* Sino-British Scholarship by British Council and Education Ministry of China 1994
* President Award for Outstanding Students of Chinese Academy of Sciences 1990

Selected References

All Publications

"Cu(II)-catalyzed Functionalizations of Aryl C−H Bonds Using O2 as an Oxidant" Chen, X.; Hao, X.-S.; Goodhue, C. E.; Yu, J.-Q. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2006, 128(21), 6790

"Pd(II)-Catalyzed Enantioselective Activation of sp2 and sp3 C-H Bonds Using mono Protected Amino Acids as Chiral Ligands," Shi, B.-F.; Maugel, N.; Zhang, Y.-H.; Yu, J.-Q. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, 4882.

"Highly Convergent Total Synthesis of (+)-Lithospermic Acid via a Late-Stage Intermolecular C–H Olefination" Wang, D.-H.; Yu, J.-Q. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011, 133(15), 5767.

"Weak Coordination as a Powerful Means for Developing Broadly Useful C–H Functionalization Reactions" Engle, K. M.; Mei, T.-S.; Wasa, M; Yu, J.-Q. Acc. Chem. Res. 2012, 45, 788.

Activation of Remote meta-C–H Bonds Assisted by an End-on Template” Leow, D.; Li, G.; Mei, T.-S.; Yu, J.-Q. Nature 2012486, 518.

"Conformation-Induced Remote meta-C-H Activation of Amines," Tang, R.; Li, G; Yu, J.-Q., Nature 2014, 507, 215.

"Ligand-Controlled C(sp3)-H Arylation and Olefination in Syntheses of Unnatural Chiral a-Amino Acids," He, J.; Li, S.; Deng, Y.; Fu, H.; Laforteza, B. N.; Spangler, J. E.; Homs, A.; Yu, J.-Q. Science 2014, 343, 1216.