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TSRI Appoints Columbia University Scientist to Chemistry Department

By Eric Sauter

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has appointed Scott A. Snyder as an associate professor with tenure in the Department of Chemistry. Before coming to the Florida campus of TSRI, Snyder was a member of the Columbia University faculty.

A TSRI alumnus, Snyder, 36, joined the TSRI faculty this month.

“We want to welcome Scott back to TSRI,” said Dale Boger, chair of the Department of Chemistry. “His career has been stellar, and his research into the synthesis of natural products has resulted in a number of important discoveries that will open the door to improvements in human health. Scott is a great addition to our department and to the institute.”

“It’s a great honor for me to return to TSRI—and to become part of the Scripps Florida faculty,” said Snyder. “I’m looking forward to rejoining the collaborative science that is the heart of TSRI, something that will keep us on the cutting edge of science—and I’m excited to be part of the new campus and its pioneering spirit.”

Snyder received his bachelor’s degree in 1999 from Williams College. After finishing graduate studies at TSRI under the tutelage of Professor K. C. Nicolaou in 2004, he was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor E. J. Corey at Harvard University, the 1990 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. In 2006, Snyder was appointed as an assistant professor at Columbia University, and in the ensuing seven years established a vigorous research program that was recognized by a number of honors. For instance, in 2010, he received an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship and a Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Grant in synthetic organic chemistry; in 2011, a DuPont Young Professor Award; and, in 2012, the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society.

He was recently chosen to deliver The Chemical Record Lecture at the Japanese Chemical Society meeting in early 2014.

Snyder’s research focus is on the total synthesis of natural products, materials widely used in the drug development process, either as medicines themselves or as progenitors to more highly bioactive and selective molecules.

“Total synthesis has produced a host of landmark achievements,” Snyder said. “There are just as many equally important discoveries waiting to be made, and the aim of my research group is to unearth them.”

For instance, at TSRI Snyder will continue his work on the chemistry and biology of resveratrol, an ingredient in red wine and grape skins thought to be behind the so-called “French paradox”– the notion that despite the consumption of significant amounts of fat and cholesterol within the typical French diet, citizens of that nation experience relatively few heart attacks because their diet also includes large amounts of red wine.

Resveratrol, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. “Resveratrol is Nature’s version of a Lego® building block that can be used to produce a large collection of complex and equally bioactive molecules,” he said. “In nature, the goal of that compound collection is preventing fungal infections. But if you give it to mice, they live longer, have better cardiovascular profiles and better cognitive abilities.” Snyder’s goal is to explore these more complex compounds and see what their effects might be in humans.  His creative approach for the controlled synthesis of many members of the resveratrol family was recently published in the journal Nature (

At TSRI, Snyder, who lives in Jupiter, FL, plans to further explore these molecules, as well as other compound collections, that are produced by the combination of a simple building block with itself again and again. 

In addition to his research, Snyder is also a recognized leader in chemical education, having co-authored an advanced graduate text while a graduate student and, more recently, an undergraduate text used worldwide which is currently in its 11th edition. Snyder also plans to involve himself deeply in education and outreach at TSRI.

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“I’m looking forward to rejoining the collaborative science that is the heart of TSRI, something that will keep us on the cutting edge of science—and I’m excited to be part of the new campus and its pioneering spirit,” says Associate Professor Scott Snyder. (Photo by Eileen Barroso.)