The receipt of the Janssen prize for Creativity in Organic Synthesis is a wonderful testament that our science has important consequences for improving the well-being of society!”
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1941 where he began his university training at the University of Pennsylvania (BA, 1962), he obtained a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry just three years later at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1965). He directly moved to the University of Wisconsin where he was promoted to Professor of Chemistry in 1969 and subsequently became the Vilas Research Professor in 1982. He joined the faculty at Stanford as Professor of Chemistry in 1987 and became Tamaki Professor of Humanities and Sciences in 1990. In addition, he has been Visiting Professor of Chemistry in Canada (McGill), Denmark (University of Copenhagen), France (Universities of Paris VI and Paris-Sud), Germany (Universities of Marburg, Hamburg, Munich and Heidelberg), Italy (University of Pisa), Spain (Universities of Barcelona and Santiago de Compostela) and the UK (Cambridge University). In 1994 he 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 2006, he has been appointed Honorary Professor of the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry.
Professor Trost’s work has been characterized by a very high order of imagination, innovation and scholarship. He has ranged over the entire field of organic synthesis, particularly emphasizing extraordinarily novel methodology. Further, he has repeatedly demonstrated how his innovative methodology allows for the simplification of many complex target oriented syntheses leading to natural products of high biological activity. Early in his career, Professor Trost participated in the isolation and structure determination of the Cecropria Juvenile hormone. These studies helped to promulgate the concept that insect growth regulators can serve as ecologically preferable alternatives to pesticides. The long term goal and defining mission of Professor Trost’s career has been toward enhancing synthetic effectiveness. He has virtually created whole new methodologies and strategies in organic synthesis. Among the areas which he has pioneered are the use of sulfur based reagents and transition metal, most notably palladium, and more recently ruthenium, catalysts in complex setting. More recently, his work has focused on enantioselective catalysts via the rational design of “chiral space.” This work requires a detailed grasp of the mechanistic nuances of organometallic reactions. As part of this program, he designed a new class of ligands that spontaneously forms dinuclear complexes that are proving to be especially effective at asymmetric catalysis. Another continuing theme, directed to the realities of organic synthesis in fostering commercial goals, is the strategy of “atom economy.” Thus, synthetic building blocks are combined to produce complex targets in high yield with a bare minimum of debris under the guidance of carefully crafted catalysts. In this way, organic synthesis can be brought to bear in process settings to reach substances of high complexity in a commercially feasible way which minimizes environmental impact. Barry Trost’s triumphs in total synthesis include complex terpenoids, steroids, alkaloids, vitamins, antibiotics, nucleosides and macrolides. His syntheses are conducted with characteristic flair and serve as learning resources in addressing the limits of the methodology which he tends to develop independently. The impact of his work is illustrated by his h-index of 126.
In recognition of his many contributions, Professor Trost has received a number of awards, including the ACS Award in Pure Chemistry (1977), the ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry (1981), the Baekeland Award (1981), the first Allan R. Day Award of the Philadelphia Organic Chemists' Club (1983), the Chemical Pioneer Award of the American Institute of Chemists (1983), the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung Award (1984), MERIT Award of NIH (1988), Hamilton Award (1988), Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (1989), Guenther Award in the Chemistry of Essential Oils and Related Products (1990), the Dr. Paul Janssen Prize (1990), the ASSU Graduate Teaching Award (1991), Pfizer Senior Faculty Award (1992), Bing Teaching Award (1993), the ACS Roger Adams Award (1995), the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (1998), the Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods (1999), the Belgian Organic Synthesis Symposium Elsevier Award (2000), the Nichols Medal (2000), the Yamada Prize (2001), the ACS Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry (2002), the ACS Cope Award (2004), the City of Philadelphia John Scott Award (2004), Thomson Scientific Laureate (2007), the Kitasato Microbial Chemistry Medal (2008), the Nagoya Medal (2008), Fellow of the American Chemical Society (2012), the Ulysses Medal (2012) from the University College Dublin, the Excellence in Medicinal Chemistry Award of the Israel Chemical Society (2013), the Ryoji Noyori Prize (2013), the August-Wilhelm-Hofmann-Denkmuenze of the German Chemical Society (2014), the International Precious Metal Institute Junichiro Tanaka Distinguished Achievement Award (2014), the Tetrahedron Prize (2014) and the Linus Pauling Medal Award (2015). He has held a Sloan Fellowship, a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar grant and an American-Swiss Foundation Fellowship as well as having been the Julius Stieglitz Memorial Lecturer of the ACS-Chicago section (1980-81) and Centenary Lecturer of the Royal Society of Chemistry (1981-82). Professor Trost has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Sciences (1982) and a member of the National Academy of Sciences (1980). He has served as editor and on the editorial board of many books and journals, including being Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society (1974-80). He has served as a member of many panels and scientific delegations, 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 served as editor for ChemTracts/Organic Chemistry.