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Chemist from Rice University Lectures on Science and Total Synthesis at ECNU

Date: June 20, 2019

During his visit to ECNU on May 23, professor and chemist of Rice Univerisity (U.S.) Kyriacos Costa Nicolaou gave a lecture on his academic career, thoughts on the development of science and pioneering research in the field of chemical synthesis.

Professor Nicolaou is also a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, U.S. National Academy of Inventors, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science and Academy of Athens, and an honorary member of the Indian Institute of Science.

Specializing in total synthesis, a field that is becoming increasingly popular in academics worldwide, he discussed the process of organic molecules in the laboratory.



Prof. Nicolaou delivers his speech titled The Art and Science of Total Synthesis and Its Impact on Biology and Medicine".


In his speech “The Art and Science of Total Synthesis and Its Impact on Biology and Medicine: From the Fundamentals to the Translational” prof. Nicolaou illustrated the historical approach to applications in organic chemistry, its role in the global social and economic development and how its handled in natural products - with nearly 200 exemplary cases involving total synthesis.

Meanwhile, the design and applications of electrochemical reactions, cycloaddition reactions and domino-cascade reactions in molecular synthesis were given attention to explain the total synthesis of star molecules and complex natural products.

The whole presentation was displayed for the audience in order to express the aesthetic perception of art while making the profound aspects of sciences easier to understand.



A number of students come for Prof. Nicolaou's speech.


In the latter part of his speech, Rice University’s chemist analyzed the relationship between total synthesis, medicinal chemistry and chemical biology. Next, he recalled how he and his co-researchers discovered natural product-like compounds, with activity even higher than natural products. They found that, in the process of total synthesis, there was also a link to complex-activity natural products, lead compounds and drugs.

After accomplishing total synthesis of Kamycin in 1999, prof. Nicolaou partnered with immunologists of the Scripps Research Institute, a nonprofit American medical research facility in California, to achieve the first synthesis of taxol and highly cytotoxic compound calicheamicin, which was used in the first antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) for targeted chemotherapy.

The Q&A section provided the audience an opportunity to pose questions about ADC drugs, the prospects for future research and any dilemmas of organic synthesis. Prof. Nicolaou offered suggestions about the impact of science on today’s youth.



Q & A session.


A group photo of attendees.


An outstanding contributor to organic synthesis, prof. Nicolaou takes credit for nurturing a large quantity of distinguished Chinese chemists, including young professor Jiang Xuefeng of ECNU. In his 50-year research career, he has helped train around 70 chemists from China, 20 of whom currently teach in Chinese universities.



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