Boston University Chemist Chosen for Prestigious Award for Synthetic Organic Chemistry Research

Contact: Ann Marie Menting, 617/353-2240 |

(Boston, Mass.) — John A. Porco, Jr., assistant professor of chemistry at Boston University, has been awarded an Unrestricted Grant in Synthetic Organic Chemistry by Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). The three-year grant will bring Porco and his team of researchers a total of $300,000 in unrestricted funds for investigations in this area.

Synthetic organic chemistry is a key tool in drug discovery and development efforts undertaken by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Porco’s research contributes to the field in two vital areas: development of new methods for the efficient synthesis of complex molecules such as those used in today’s pharmaceuticals and development of new combinatorial methods to make highly diverse libraries of organic molecules.

“The BMS award will allow my team to expand its efforts,” says Porco, “and to initiate new projects that are exploratory in nature, including the pursuit of new complex-molecule targets. The award also indicates that BU’s chemistry department has achieved a critical mass in the area of complex molecule synthesis.”

Through this award, BMS seeks to recognize the importance of the “vibrant and productive academic community” conducting research in synthetic organic chemistry.

“This support by BMS is fantastic,” says Porco. “It underscores their leadership position in funding academic chemistry research and shows their foresight in supporting emerging projects.”

In September 2002, Porco was named director of BU’s Center for Chemical Methodology and Library Development, an NIH-funded center. He joined the university in 1999, following positions in industry with Avalon Ventures and Argonaut Technologies, where he served as director of parallel medicinal chemistry. Porco earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he studied under the guidance of Stuart Schreiber. His postdoctoral research was carried out at the Scripps Research Institute.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is one of the world’s leading makers of medicines and related health-care products. Its Unrestricted Grant in Synthetic Organic Chemistry is awarded annually to two talented academic researchers it considers to be future leaders in the field. The 2003 recipients are Porco and Justin Du Bois of Stanford University.

Boston University, with an enrollment of more than 29,000 in its 17 schools and colleges, is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States. Research specializations for faculty in the university’s Chemistry Department encompass biochemistry, chemical physics, inorganic and organic chemistry, photochemistry, physical chemistry, and theoretical chemistry.