John A. Porco, Jr.

Professor John Porco

Professor John Porco

John Porco investigates chemical syntheses of complex molecules and synthesis of complex chemical libraries of novel structural types.  John joined the Department of Chemistry at Boston University in 1999 after a successful career in industry and was rapidly promoted to Professor of Chemistry in September 2004.

Degrees and Positions

  • B.A. in Chemistry (summa cum laude, with Honors), College of the Holy Cross, 1985.
  • M.S. in Organic Chemistry, Yale University, 1988
  • Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry, Harvard University, 1992


  • Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, 2009
  • Novartis Chemistry Lectureship Award (2009)
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb Award, 2003-2005


In 2009, Professor Porco received the prestigious Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award for excellence in the field of Organic Chemistry

Research in the Porco Group is focused in two major areas: the development of new synthetic methodologies for efficient chemical synthesis of complex molecules and synthesis of complex chemical libraries, the latter conducted at the Boston University Center for Molecular Discovery. Synthetic methodologies developed in the Porco Laboratory include copper (I)-mediated formation of enamides, oxa-electrocyclization/dimerization of dienals enroute to complex epoxyquinoids; enantioselective oxidative dearomatization using chiral copper complexes and molecular oxygen; photocycloaddition using oxidopyryliums enroute to the rocaglamides and related natural products, and catalytic ester-amide exchange using group (IV) metal alkoxide-activator complexes.

  • Dearomatization Strategies in Complex Synthesis aim to utilize aromatic scaffolds as starting materials as precursors to complex natural products.
  • Faculty Profile Scientific Image Porco 1Biomimetic Synthesis Approaches involve development of methodologies to test plausible biosyntheses of complex natural products and derivatives.
  • New Reaction Discovery is done in conjunction with the BU-CMD and aims to discover transformations leading to novel chemotypes.

Techniques & Resources

  • Organic Synthesis techniques are used and include modern methods for synthesis, purification, and analysis of organic molecules.
  • Boston University Center for Molecular Discovery (BU-CMD) is an NIH-funded Center at Boston University which focuses on development of new methodologies for the synthesis of complex chemical libraries.

What’s Next for Graduates of the Porco Group?

Since 1999, 25 graduate students have completed their Ph.D. dissertations and 19 postdoctoral fellows have completed fellowships.

Of those who have completed training, 25 of 45 have pursued academic or postdoctoral positions while the remainder have pursued careers in the pharmaceutical industry. Former group members include:

  • Dr. Branko Mitasev, Research Scientist, Eisai Research Institute.
  • Prof. Xiaoguang Lei, Professor, Peking University
  • Dr. Ji Qi, Principal Scientist, Merck, LinkedIn
  • Prof. Alex Grenning, Assistant Professor, University of Florida, Gainesville

Director, Boston University Center for Molecular Discovery

LSE 802
Phone: 617.353.2493
Fax: 617.353.6466
Office Hours by Appointment
Porco Group Home Page
Google Scholar Page
J. Porco, Jr. Curriculum Vitae