Kavli Lecture Series

The Kavli lecture series* promotes groundbreaking discovery and public understanding of the world’s mounting challenges and how chemistry can provide solutions.

* Supported by The Kavli Foundation

The Kavli Foundation Innovations in Chemistry Lecture

Dr. Harry Gray

Dr. Harry Gray

Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry and Founding Director of the Beckman Institute, California Institute of Technology

Powering the planet with solar fuel

Monday, September 9, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Kavli Lecture Trailer - Harry Gray from ACS Pressroom on Vimeo.

This Lecture on Powering the planet with solar fuel will highlight how molecular hydrogen has emerged as an attractive candidate for a clean, renewable fuel to meet the world's skyrocketing demand for energy using enzyme catalysis. Specifically, hydrogenase enzymes containing iron and nickel cofactors evolve H2 catalytically from water with turnover frequencies as high as 9,000/sec at 30 C°. However, the relative instability of these enzymes under aerobic conditions has led to the search for robust inorganic catalysts that can produce hydrogen from water. Though, platinum is a well-known catalyst for this reaction, scarcity and high cost limit its widespread use. Ongoing research efforts are to determine heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysts made from earth-abundant elements that scale to solar fuel devices in the future. Promising heterogeneous catalysts include MoS2 and Ni–Mo, with catalytic efficiencies near that of platinum and metal-oxide nanoparticles made by pulsed laser ablation.

Plentiful food for 9 billion people on fewer arable acres, using less available water, and leaving a smaller environmental footprint.

Bio: Harry Gray is the Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry and the Founding Director of the Beckman Institute at the California Institute of Technology. After graduate work in inorganic chemistry at Northwestern University and postdoctoral research at the University of Copenhagen, he joined the chemistry faculty at Columbia University, where in the early 1960s he developed ligand field theory to interpret the electronic structures and reactions of transition metal complexes. After moving to Caltech in 1966, he began work in biological inorganic chemistry and inorganic photochemistry that led to the development of molecular systems for the storage of solar energy. Working on the mechanisms of metalloprotein redox reactions, he demonstrated in 1982 that electrons can tunnel rapidly over long molecular distances through folded polypeptide structures. Then, in the 1990s, he and J. R. Winkler developed laser flash-quench methods that opened the way for experimental investigations that have led to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of electron flow through proteins that function in respiration and photosynthesis. Gray has published over 800 research papers and 18 books. He has received the National Medal of Science from President Ronald Reagan (1986); the Pauling Medal (1986); the Linderstrøm-Lang Prize (1992); the Gibbs Medal (1992); the Harvey Prize (2000); the Nichols Medal (2003); the National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences (2003); the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry (2004); the Wolf Prize in Chemistry (2004); the City of Florence Prize in Molecular Sciences (2006); the Welch Award in Chemistry (2009); the Japan International Coordination Chemistry Award (2010); the Othmer Gold Medal (2013); six national awards from the American Chemical Society, including the Priestley Medal (1991); and 17 honorary doctorates, including ones from Rochester, Northwestern, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Columbia, Toulouse, Florence, Copenhagen, and Edinburgh. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the American Philosophical Society; a foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters; the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; the Royal Society of Great Britain; and the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. He has been a director of University Science Books since 1978 and a member of the Board of Directors of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation since 1994.

The Kavli Foundation Emerging Leader in Chemistry Lecture

Dr. Martin D. Burke

Dr. Martin D. Burke

Associate Professor of Chemistry, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Making molecular prosthetics with a small molecule synthesizer

Monday, September 9, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Kavli Lecture Trailer - Martin Burke from ACS Pressroom on Vimeo.

Dr. Martin D. Burke is the second recipient of The Kavli Foundation Emerging Leader in Chemistry Lecture award. Dr. Burke was nominated by the Organic Chemistry Division and will deliver his lecture on Making molecular prosthetics with a small molecule synthesizer. Small molecules that bind to proteins can serve as powerful medicines. However, diseases caused by deficiencies of protein function generally resist this therapeutic approach. Fortunately, nature has provided inspiration for an alternative strategy in the form of small molecules that can perform protein-like functions in living systems. The existence of these natural prototypes suggests that small molecules may possess untapped potential to replace deficient proteins that underlie human diseases, thereby operating as prostheses on the molecular scale. Recent advances in synthetic organic chemistry have played a major role in understanding these molecules. Specifically, analogous to peptide synthesis, iterative cross-coupling has emerged as an automated method to prepare complex small molecules. This new platform has the potential to deliver the power of making small molecules to non-specialists. Collectively, these developments stand to promote the advanced understanding and ultimately widespread utilization of small molecule surrogates for missing proteins.

Bio: Marty Burke completed his undergraduate studies in chemistry at Johns Hopkins University in 1998. He then moved to Harvard and MIT as a PhD/MD student in the interdisciplinary Health Sciences and Technology program. From 1999-2003 he completed his thesis research as an HHMI Graduate Fellow under the direction of Professor Stuart Schreiber at Harvard University. After finishing his clinical rotations as an NIH Fellow in the Medical Scientist Training Program, he graduated from Harvard Medical School in 2005.

That same year Marty joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. In 2009 his lab was selected to join Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and in 2011 he was promoted to Associate Professor. Research in the Burke group focuses on the synthesis and study of small molecules that perform protein-like functions. These efforts seek to build the foundation for the development of molecular prosthetics as a general strategy for the betterment of human health. To enable these studies, Marty's group is pioneering a synthesis platform, dubbed iterative cross-coupling that aims to make the process of small molecule construction as simple, efficient, and flexible as possible. This work has already led to the development of more than 140 commercially-available MIDA boronate building blocks that are enabling syntheses of small molecules in many academic and industrial labs throughout the world and an application on the process scale to support clinical studies in humans.

Marty's group is now harnessing the power of this chemistry to understand the protein-like activities of a variety of prototypical small molecule natural products, including the ion channel-forming polyene macrolide amphotericin B and the antilipoperoxidant carotenoid peridinin.

Marty is the recipient of a number of honors and awards, including the ACS Kavli Foundation Emerging Leader in Chemistry Lecturer Award, ACS Elias J. Corey Award for Outstanding Original Contribution in Organic Synthesis by a Young Investigator, ACS Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist Award, Novartis Chemistry Lectureship, University of Illinois Innovation Discovery Award, a Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation Young Investigator Award, an NSF CAREER award, the Dreyfus Foundation New Faculty Award, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Research Grant in Synthetic Organic Chemistry, the Eli Lilly Grantee Award, the Amgen Young Investigator Award, the AstraZeneca Excellence in Chemistry Award, and he has been named “one of the world's 35 top innovators under age 35” by Technology Review. He has also been extensively recognized for excellence in teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

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