School of Humanities and Sciences
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Professor of Genetics, of Biology and, by courtesy, of Chemistry
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsWe develop chemogenetic and optogenetic technologies for probing and manipulating protein networks, cellular RNA, and the function of mitochondria and the mammalian brain. Our technologies draw from enzyme engineering, directed evolution, chemical biology, organic synthesis, high-resolution microscopy, genetics, and computational analysis.
Job and Gertrud Tamaki Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Emeritus
BioBorn in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Barry Trost began his university training at the University of Pennsylvania (BA, 1962) and completed his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1965). He moved directly to the University of Wisconsin, where he was promoted to Professor of Chemistry and subsequently Vilas Research Professor. He joined the faculty at Stanford as Professor of Chemistry in 1987 and became Tamaki Professor of Humanities and Sciences in 1990. In addition to serving multiple visiting professorships, Professor Trost was presented with a Docteur honoris causa of the Université Claude-Bernard (Lyon I), France, and in 1997 a Doctor Scientiarum Honoris Causa of the Technion, Haifa, Israel. In recognition of his innovations and scholarship in the field of organic synthesis, Professor Trost has received the ACS Award in Pure Chemistry, ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, and the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, among many others. Professor Trost has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Chemical Society, and American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and served as Chairman of the NIH Medicinal Chemistry Study Section. He has held over 125 special university lectureships and presented over 270 Plenary Lectures at national and international meetings. He has published two books and over 950 scientific articles. He edited a major compendium entitled Comprehensive Organic Synthesis consisting of nine volumes and serves on the editorial board for Science of Synthesis and Reaxys.
The Trost Group’s research program revolves around the theme of synthesis, including target molecules with potential applications as novel catalysts, as well as antibiotic and antitumor therapies. The work comprises two major activities: 1) developing the tools, i.e., the reactions and reagents, and 2) creating the proper network of reactions to make complex targets readily available from simple starting materials.
Efforts to develop "chemists' enzymes" – non-peptidic transition metal based catalysts that can perform chemo-, regio-, diastereo-, and especially enantioselective reactions – focus close attention to the question of atom economy to minimize waste, energy, and consumption of raw materials.
Synthetic efficiency raises the question of metal catalyzed cycloadditions to rings other than six-membered. A general strategy is evolving for a "Diels-Alder" equivalent for formation of five, seven, nine, etc. membered carbo- and heterocyclic rings.
An exciting new direction derives from the molecular gymnastics acetylenes undergo in the presence of transition metals. Additional specific goals include cycloisomerization to virtually all types of ring sizes and systems with particularly versatile juxtaposition of functionality.
Palladium and ruthenium catalysts represent a major part of the lab's efforts, in order to invent new synthetic processes together with new opportunities for selectivity complementary to that obtained using other metal complexes. Main group chemistry, especially involving silicon, zinc, and sulfur, also offers many opportunities for new reaction design. Rational design of novel catalysts for asymmetric additions to carbonyl and imine groups are an exciting thrust.From these new synthetic tools evolve new synthetic strategies towards complex natural products. Targets include β-lactam antibiotics, ionophores, steroids and related compounds (e.g., Vitamin D metabolites), alkaloids, nucleosides, carbohydrates, and macrolide, terpenoid, and tetracyclic antitumor and antibiotic agents.