“The Janssen Prize was a special honor and served as an inspiration to me for making further advancement in my career—I appreciated it enormously, not only for what it did for me, but more importantly for recognizing the importance of synthesis to chemistry, biology and medicine!”
K.C. Nicolaou was born on July 5, 1946 in Cyprus, where he attended school until the age of 18. In 1964, he emigrated from Cyprus to England where he spent two years learning English and preparing to enter the university. His advanced studies in chemistry were carried out at the University of London (B.Sc., 1969, Bedford College, First Class Honors; Ph.D. 1972, University College, with Profs. F. Sondheimer and P.J. Garratt). In 1972, he crossed the Atlantic to the United States and completed postdoctoral appointments at Columbia University (1972–1973, Prof. T.J. Katz) and Harvard University (1973–1976, Prof. E.J. Corey) after which he joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, where he rose through the ranks to become the Rhodes-Thompson Professor of Chemistry. In 1989, he accepted joint appointments at the University of California, San Diego, where he was Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and The Scripps Research Institute, where he served as the Chairman of the Department of Chemistry and held the Darlene Shiley Chair in Chemistry and the Aline W. and L. S. Skaggs Professor of Chemical Biology (1996–2013) in the Department of Chemistry. From 2003 to 2009, he concurrently served as the Founder and Director of the Chemical Synthesis Laboratory at A*STAR, Biopolis in Singapore. From 2012-2014, he was Visiting Professor at Chongqing University, China. In 2013, Dr. Nicolaou joined the Chemistry Department at Rice University where he holds the Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Chair in Natural Sciences.