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Hirschmann-Makineni Professor of Chemistry: Gary Molander
November 20, 2007, Volume 54, No. 13



Dr. Gary Molander has been appointed the Hirschmann-Makineni Professor of Chemistry, SAS Dean Rebecca Bushnell announced. 

Dr. Molander joined Penn’s chemistry faculty in 1999. His research interests focus on the development of new methods for organic synthesis and natural-product synthesis. A major focus of his research has been the application of organolanthanide reagents and catalysts to selective organic synthesis. More recently, he has been involved in the development of organotrifluoroborates. More than 200 research papers have emanated from his research program. 

He has received several honors for his research and teaching, including an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society as well as the society’s Philadelphia Section Award and Penn’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. He has been a visiting scholar at many universities around the world. Currently, he is secretary/treasurer of the Division of Organic Chemistry of the American Chemical Society. In 2001 he was the executive director for the 37th National Organic Symposium, and in 2004-2006 he served as a director of the Philadelphia Section of the American Chemical Society. 

Dr. Molander has been on the editorial advisory boards of Organometallics, Tetrahedron, Tetrahedron Letters and Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry and has served as a volume editor for Science of Synthesis. He is an associate editor of Organic Letters and an executive editor of the Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis. He will serve on the editorial advisory board of Science of Synthesis beginning in 2009.

The Hirschmann-Makineni Professorship in Chemistry was established by Rao Makineni in 1993 in honor of National Medal of Science recipient Dr. Ralph Hirschmann, who was the first holder of this endowed professorship. Dr. Hirschmann is currently an emeritus research professor at Penn. 

Before coming to Penn in 1987, Dr. Hirschmann was senior vice president for basic research at Merck & Co., Inc., where he had worked since 1950. He also had a concurrent appointment as professor of biomedical research at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. He received an AB from Oberlin College in 1943, served in the US Army during World War II, and then received a PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1950. He has written more than 160 papers and holds 100 patents. His early work at Merck led to the discovery of stereoselective control of chemical transformations, an important concept in organic chemistry. At Penn, Dr. Hirschmann initiated collaborative research in the field of peptidomimetics, which has clarified relationships between chemical structure and biological function via collaborations with biologists in the pharmaceutical industry.

In addition to the National Medal of Science, his honors include the National Academy of Sciences’ Award for the Industrial Application of Science, the American Chemical Society’s Arthur C. Cope Medal and Edward E. Smissman Bristol-Myers Squibb Award, and many more.

Rao Makineni was born in Andhra, India. He received his undergraduate training at the Christian College in 1952. Four years later he was awarded the degree of Associate of the Royal College of Science and Technology at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. In 1959, he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked first for Shankman Laboratories and later for the Pasadena Foundation for Medical Research. In 1963, he joined the Cyclo Chemical Company, his first major commitment to peptide chemistry. His entrepreneurial talent became apparent in 1967, when he became cofounder of the Fox Chemical Company. In 1971, Mr. Makineni and Peter Grogg started Bachem with laboratories in Switzerland and California. The two organizations subsequently separated, both becoming highly successful enterprises. He retired in 1996 to continue his philanthropic activities and to travel with his wife, Padma.

Mr. Makineni has been a generous friend of the chemistry department, having provided funds for renovating space for the Makineni Laboratory for Theoretical Chemistry and the Makineni Conference Room in the department of chemistry.


Almanac - November 20, 2007, Volume 54, No. 13