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Paul Helquist

Contributor II
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B.A. 1969 University of Minnesota, Duluth (Chemistry)

M.S. 1971 Cornell University (Organic Chemistry)

Ph.D. 1972 Cornell University (Organic Chemistry)

Postdoctoral 1973-1974 Harvard University (Organic Chemistry)

Professional Positions

1966-1969 Undergraduate Research Assistant and Computer Programmer,

Department of Chemistry, University of Minnesota, Duluth

1969-1972 Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant, Department of Chemistry, Cornell University (Advisor: Professor M. F. Semmelhack)

1973-1974 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Chemistry, Harvard University (Advisor: Professor E. J. Corey)

1974-1980 Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, State University of New York at Stony Brook

1980-1984 Associate Professor, State University of New York at Stony Brook

1984-1986 Professor, State University of New York at Stony Brook

1984- Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame

1988-1993 Chair, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame

1993- Development Liaison, College of Science, University of Notre Dame

1999- Head, Drug Design, Development, and Delivery Group, Walter Cancer Research Center, University of Notre Dame

2009- Associate Chair for Research, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame

Honors and Other Experience

Catacosinos Cancer Research Award, 1979-1981

Instructor of American Chemical Society Short Courses on Synthetic Organic

Chemistry and Heterocyclic Synthesis, 1981-present

Research Fellow of the Natural Science Research Council of Sweden, Royal

Institute of Technology, Stockholm, 1982

John G. Bergquist Fellow of the American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1982

Visiting Scientist, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, 1986 and 1989

Ph.D. honoris causa, University of Uppsala, Sweden, 1988

Consultant, pharmaceutical industry, 1989-present

American Chemical Society Exceptional Achievement Award, 1991

ETS/GRE, member of board of examiners in chemistry, 1989-1998; Chair, 1996-1998

Shilts-Leonard Teaching Award, College of Science, University of Notre Dame, 1996

College Board/Siemens Math, Science, and Technology Program, 1999-present

Director, National Science Foundation College Teacher Workshops in Organic Chemistry, 1999-2004.

Walther Cancer Institute Collaborator of the Year Award, 2001

Visiting Scientist, AstraZeneca, Södertälje, Sweden, May-June 2003, May-June 2007

Visiting Professor, University of Stockholm and Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, May-June, 2004

University of Minnesota Duluth Academy of Science and Engineering Inductee, 2004

Walther Research Prize, Walther Cancer Institute, 2004

Kaneb Teaching Award, University of Notre Dame, 1999, 2002, and 2005

Guest Professor, Danish Technical University, Lyngby, Denmark, May-June, 2006

Kaneb Teaching Center Fellow, University of Notre Dame, 2006-2007

Joyce Award for Exellence in Undergraduate Teaching, University of Notre Dame, 2009

External Advisory Committee, Hawaii Statewide Research and Educational Partnership, 2009-present

Research Interests

Development of new transition metal reagents and catalysts for selective synthetic reactions.

New methods in asymmetric synthesis.

Synthesis and development of new pharmaceuticals, including antibacterial and antitumor agents.


Carbene Complexes of Iron as New Synthetic Reagents

Transition metal carbene complexes are chemical species having the general structure in which M may be any of several metals and L may be a variety of ligands. Most importantly, these complexes may be regarded as stabilized forms of the normally very reactive carbenes. Since the discovery of these complexes by E. O. Fischer in the 1960s, chemists have been intrigued by the possibility that these species may serve as useful chemical intermediates in various synthetic procedures. Indeed, our research in this area has led to a number of iron-containing compounds that serve as quite synthetically useful reagents. One of the most interesting of these (n5-C5H5)(CO)2FeCH2S+(CH3)2BF4 which is unusually air and waterstable but reacts directly with alkene to give cyclopropanes in high yields. In addition to several other reagents of this type, we have also developed a series of specially stabilized carbene complexes Most recently, we have been investigating intramolecular C-H insertion reactions of our complexes. These reactions can be employed in the very direct construction of complex ring systems. Applications of these reactions in natural product synthesis have resulted in the efficient synthesis of polycyclic terpernoids. Furthermore, we have found that these carbene complexes can be used as initiators of classical cationic olefinic cyclization reactions, which are of use in biomimetic synthesis yet other polycyclic systems.

Chemical and Microbiological Studies of Antibiotics: Investigation of the Virginiamycin Family

The virginiamycins are complex macrocyclic, naturally occurring compounds that belong to the streptogramin class of antibiotics. Two examples are virginiamycin M1 and virginiamycin S1. Because of a combination of the important biological activity of these compounds and the challenge posed by their structure, we initially undertook a program of research directed toward the synthesis of these antibiotics and their analogues. The presence of certain structural features in these compounds stimulated us, first of all, to develop some new synthetic methods based largely upon the use of transition metal reagents. These methods have permitted us to synthesize major portions of these antibiotics. We have also used a combined chemical and microbiological approach to study the binding of these compounds and synthetic analogues to bacterial ribosomes, and we have studied degradation products resulting from the action of resistant microorganisms on these antibiotics. The overall goals of these studies are to gain a greater understanding of the basis of antibiotic action and to develop new pharmaceutically useful compounds.


University of Notre Dame

250 Nieuwland Science Hall

Notre Dame, IN, United States, 46556


Home: 574-277-1743

Business: 574-631-7822

Fax: 574-631-6652

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