Appointment of 2011-12 University Professors

PDAD&C#65, 2011-12

To:  PDAD&C 
From:      Cheryl Misak, Vice-President and Provost 
Date:   June 1, 2012
Re: Appointment of 2011-12 University Professors  

The University of Toronto recognizes exceptional scholarly achievement through the designation of 'University Professor'. I am pleased to announce that at its meeting yesterday the Academic Board approved the 2011-12 University Professors. These new members of this august group are as follows:

• Professor Lewis Kay, Departments of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine

• Professor Mark Lautens, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Arts & Science

I would like to thank the members of the selection committee for their work in reviewing the many excellent candidates. I also thank all of the nominators who prepared dossiers for submission.

Please join me in congratulating the 2011-12 University Professors on their outstanding accomplishments.

The biographies of the 2011-12 University Professors are available below.

Professor Lewis Kay

Professor Lewis Kay is a grandmaster of physics, chemistry and biochemistry who is a world leader in the development and application of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods for the study of protein structure and dynamics.

A Canadian who grew up in Edmonton, Lewis Kay graduated with a B.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of Alberta in 1983 and won the Lieutenant Governor's Gold Medal for Highest Achievement in the Graduating Class in the Faculty of Science. Professor Kay went on to obtain his Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics from Yale University in 1988, followed by post-doctoral studies at the National Institutes of Health. Professor Kay's early work revolutionized the NMR field that had been limited to the study of small proteins at the time and these early papers are now citation classics. For the past twenty years Lewis Kay has continued to make major contributions to the development of NMR methods and numerous times he has broken the "size barrier". An editorial published in Current Science in 2002 concluded: "Wuthrich's Nobel Prize recognizes his seminal contributions to NMR spectroscopy and Lewis Kay's record work demonstrates that molecular size limit, as far as NMR is concerned, are a thing of the past."

The University of Toronto was very fortunate to recruit Professor Kay and to provide him with the resources to carry out his ground-breaking research. He was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Molecular Genetics (the, Medial genetics) and Biochemistry in 1992, and promoted to a Full Professor with tenure just three years later, skipping the Associate Professor level entirely. Professor Kay was awarded a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in 2000 and in 2010 he obtained a $10M Canada Foundation for Innovation grant to purchase a leading-edge NMR suite to allow his lab to compete at the highest international levels.

Having a publication list of over 300 papers, Professor Kay is listed by ISI as a "Highly Cited" author in the assigned category "Chemistry". Indeed, many of the papers are cited hundreds of times each. These citations include methodological papers with wide applicability, review articles, as well as papers dealing with the structures of important biological proteins such as those involved in cancer. With almost 300 invitations Professor Kay has been invited to every major university and NMR conference in the world, not only for his excellent research but also because he is a compelling speaker.

The research carried out by Professor Kay has been recognized in Canada and internationally with a number of prestigious awards, of which a few are highlighted here. He was an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and an International Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 1996, he won the Merck Frosst Award for the top biochemist in Canada within ten years of a first faculty appointment. In 1998, he was recognized as one of Canada's "Top 40 Under 40". More prestigious prizes followed: the Steacie Prize from the National Research Council of Canada in 1999, the Favelle Medal from the Royal Society of Canada, the Founders Medal from the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Biological Systems in 2002 and the Gunther Laukien Prize in 2004. In 2006 Professor Kay was elected to the Royal Society of Canada and in 2010 to the Royal Society (London).

Professor Mark Lautens

Mark 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.