Jin-Quan Yu

Jin-Quan Yu

2016 MacArthur Fellowship

Professor Jin-Quan Yu is a professor at the Scripps Research Institute and a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry. He pioneered new methods for the catalysis and functionalization of carbon-hydrogen bonds and enabling the development of versatile, novel, and beneficial chemical compounds, for this he was awarded the 2016 MacArthur Fellowship.

Education and Work Experience
  • 1999, Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of Cambridge
  • 2007-2010, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Scripps Research Institute
  • 2010-2012, Professor of Chemistry, Scripps Research Institute
  • 2012-Present, Frank and Bertha Hupp Professor of Chemistry, Scripps Research Institute
Honors and Awards
    • 2012, Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry 
    • 2014, Elias J. Corey Award, American Chemical Scociety
    • 2016, MacArthur Genius Grant
    • 2017, Pedler award, Royal Society Chemistry
    • 2019, Member of the American Academy of Arts and Science
Major Academic Achievements

Jin-Quan Yu is a synthetic chemist pioneering new techniques for the functionalization of carbon-hydrogen (C-H) bonds. Yu has made several significant advances in the efficiency, specificity, and practicality of palladium-catalyzed C-H functionalization. He and collaborators have expanded the possibilities for tailored C-H activation by extending the distance between the C-H bond and the directing functional group much further than previously possible. They have also developed modified amino acids that can act as “transient directing groups” for a variety of ketone and aldehyde substrates. The amino acids can be selected to direct the chirality of the resulting products, a critical step in the production of effective pharmaceuticals. Most recently, Yu invented a new method for activation of methylene groups, which are the most common class of C-H bonds. Using palladium catalysts bearing amino acid or quinoline (from coal tar)- derived chiral ligands, he has both drastically accelerated this process and enabled the creation of products with specific chirality. Yu’s unconventional approach to C-H functionalization is creating a paradigm shift in the logic of organic synthetic chemistry and breaking down barriers to the development of versatile compounds with enormous benefits to academic, industrial, and pharmaceutical research.