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Phil Baran, Ph.D.

Darlene Shiley Chair in Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
California Campus
Laboratory Website
(858) 784-7373

Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Faculty, Graduate Program

Research Focus

In the 20th century the art and science of complex natural product total synthesis defined the frontiers of organic chemistry. Throughout these decades fundamental insights into reactivity and selectivity principles were achieved by these numerous synthetic endeavors. The capability and power of organic synthesis has thus experienced a dramatic increase putting today’s synthetic chemists in the position to construct molecules of more or less any degree of structural complexity. The perception defining “art” in organic synthesis has therefore changed with time and in our opinion is described best by Hendrickson when he addressed the “ideal synthesis” as one which: “…creates a complex molecule… in a sequence of only construction reactions involving no intermediary refunctionalizations, and leading directly to the target, not only its skeleton but also its correctly placed functionality” (Hendrickson, J.B. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1975, 97, 5784).

This prescient statement truly encompasses and epitomizes the “economies” of synthesis design many years before ideas of atom, step, and redox-economy were formally galvanized. Now, in 2010, the field has reached an awe-inspiring level, with many proclaiming that synthesis has matured. But before one declares the science of synthesis an endeavor in engineering, one only needs to reflect on the inspiring ease with which Nature crafts large quantities of her most complex molecules (e.g. vancomycin and taxol). Total synthesis in this century must therefore be keenly aware of this ultimate challenge – to be able to provide large quantities of complex natural products with a minimum amount of labor and material expenses. The natural consequence of pursuing such a goal is to embrace the Hendrickson dictum (vide supra). Pursuing synthesis in such a way forces the practitioner into the role of an inventor. It naturally also leads to explorations into biology since multiple collaborations can be forged with ample materials.


B.S., Chemistry, New York University, 1997
Ph.D., Chemistry, The Scripps Research Institute, 2001

Awards & Professional Activities

Manchot Research Professorship Award, 2017

Member, The National Academy of Sciences, 2017

Emanuel Merck Lectureship, 2017 • Blavatnik National Laureate in Chemistry Award, 2016

ACS Elias J. Corey Award, 2016

Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2015

College of Arts and Science Alumni Distinguished Service Award, New York University, 2015 • Reagent of the Year Award (EROS), 2015

Mukaiyama Award, 2014 • MacArthur Fellowship, 2013

Royal Society of Chemistry Synthetic Organic Chemistry Award, 2013

Fellow, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2013 • Fellow, AAAS, 2012 – Present

ACS San Diego Section Distinguished Scientist Award, 2012

ISHC Katritzky Heterocyclic Chemistry Award, 2011

Thieme-IUPAC Prize in Synthetic Organic Chemistry, 2010
ACS Award in Pure Chemistry, 2010
Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences, 2009
National Fresenius Award, 2007
Pfizer Award for Creativity in Organic Chemistry, 2006
Beckman Young Investigator Award, 2006
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow, 2006-2008
BMS Unrestricted "Freedom to Discover" Grant, 2006 - 2010
NSF Career, 2006 - 2010
Eli Lilly Young Investigator Award, 2005 - 2006
AstraZeneca Excellence in Chemistry Award, 2005
DuPont Young Professor Award, 2005
Roche Excellence in Chemistry Award, 2005
Amgen Young Investigator Award, 2005
Searle Scholar Award, 2005
GlaxoSmithKline Chemistry Scholar Award, 2005-2006

Selected References

Brueckl, T.; Baxter, R.D.; Ishihara, Y.; Baran, P.S. Innate and Guided C–H Functionalization Logic, Acc. Chem. Res., 2011, In Press. 

Mendoza, A.; Ishihara, Y.; Baran, P.S. Scalable, Enantioselective Taxane Total Synthesis, Nature Chem., 2011, In Press. 

Su, S.; Rodriguez, R.A; Baran, P.S. Scalable, Stereocontrolled Total Synthesis of (±)–Axinellamines A and B, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133, 13922 – 13925.

Gaich, T.; Baran, P.S. Aiming for the Ideal Synthesis, J. Org. Chem. 2010, 75, 4657 – 4673. (Invited on occasion of the 2010 Pure Chemistry award.)

Newhouse, T.; Lewis, C.A.; Eastman, K.J.; Baran, P.S. Scalable Total Syntheses of N-Linked Tryptamine Dimers by Direct Indole – Aniline Coupling: Psychotrimine and Kapakahines B and F, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 7119 – 7137.

Burns, N.Z.; Krylova, I.; Hannoush, R.N.; Baran, P.S. Scalable Total Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Haouamine A and its Atropoisomer, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 9172 – 9173.

Chen, K.; Baran, P.S. Total Synthesis of Eudesmane Terpenes by Site-Selective C–H Oxidations, Nature 2009, 459, 824 – 828.

Shi, J.; Manolikakes, G.; Yeh, C-H.; Guerrero, C.A.; Shenvi, R.A.; Shigehisa, H.; Baran, P.S. Scalable Synthesis of Cortistatin A and Related Structures, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133, 8014 – 8027.

Baran, P.S.; Maimone, T.J.; Richter, J.M. Total Synthesis of Marine Natural Products Without Using Protecting Groups, Nature 2007, 446, 404 – 408.

Chen, K.; Baran, P.S. Total Synthesis of Eudesmane Terpenes by Site-Selective C–H Oxidations, Nature 2009, 459, 824 – 828.