Professor Mark Lautens

Lautens_MarkMark Lautens was born in Hamilton, Ontario on July 9, 1959.  He attended the University of Guelph where he graduated with Distinction in 1981.  He conducted his doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the direction of Barry M. Trost where he was supported by an NSERC PGS.  His doctoral thesis reported on the discovery of the molybdenum catalyzed C-C allylic alkylation and the Pd Enyne Cycloisomerization.  In 1985 he moved to Harvard University where he conducted his NSERC PDF with David A. Evans on studies directed toward the synthesis of bryostatin, a potent anti-cancer agent.  He joined the University of Toronto in 1987 as an NSERC University Research Fellow and Assistant Professor.  He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1992 and Professor in 1995.  Since 1998 he has held an Endowed Chair, the AstraZeneca Professor of Organic Synthesis, and in 2003 he was named an NSERC/Merck Frosst Industrial Research Chair in New Medicinal Agents via Catalytic Reactions. 

He has published 285 communications, full papers, book chapters and he has edited two books including Volume 1 of the 48 volume series, Science of Synthesis. He has written high impact reviews on some of the most intensely studies reactions in organic chemistry including metal catalyzed cycloadditions, C-H activation and halide effects in controlling selectivity.  He has lectured >300 times as a Keynote, Plenary and Invited speaker at conferences, universities and to industry in >20 countries.

More than 150 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows have studied in his laboratory in addition to hundreds of undergraduates and visiting students from Denmark, Japan, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany and the UK.  His former students hold academic positions in Canada, the US, France, Japan and the UK and many have taken positions in the pharmaceutical industry in countries around the world.

Among his awards are the A.P. Sloan Fellowship, E.W.R. Steacie Fellowship, A.C. Cope Scholar from the ACS, Eli Lilly Grantee, Pedler Award of the RSC (UK), A. Bader, R. Lemieux, Merck Frosst Awards all from the CSC.  He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK).  He has held visiting professorships in Geneva, Paris, Max Planck Institute in Mulheim, Marburg, ICIQ Tarragona, Santiago de Compostela, Tokyo Institute of Technology and at the Corbella School in Italy.  He was selected for an Alexander von Humboldt Award and his host institutions are Frei University of Berlin, Aachen and Goettingen.

His scientific contributions are focused on finding new ways to prepare medicinally important molecules in an efficient and environmentally sustainable manner and to seek new reactivity patterns that expand on the chemist’s toolbox in organic synthesis.  He has developed many metal catalyzed reactions that create “chiral molecules” that are needed for drug discovery and found new strategies to the synthesis of heterocyclic molecules that are scaffolds for medicinal chemistry.  His work is characterized by the discovery of reactions that simplify the way complex molecules can be made and innovative new strategies and tactics to prepare medicinally important compounds.  These reactions and strategies have influenced others in the field who have built on his contributions and his work has been adopted by industry.  Solvias AG of Switzerland created a Lautens Chiral Scaffold Kit based on his new reactions.