Baylor draws prominent chemist

March 20, 2013

Dr. John L. Wood joins Baylor as distinguished professor, brings $4.2 million research grant

A world-renowned chemist, Dr. John L. Wood, has been named by Baylor University as The Robert A. Welch Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. His appointment is made possible in part by a $4.2 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

Dr. Lee Nordt, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, is excited about the prospect of having another researcher of Wood's caliber on campus. "His presence will not only enhance the reputation of Baylor in general, but of the health sciences more specifically, consistent with expectations articulated in Baylor's new strategic plan Pro Futuris," Nordt said.

Wood, who also will be Baylor's CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research, will join the faculty of Baylor's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, where he will relocate his laboratory from Colorado State University.

"Bringing a scholar of Dr. Wood's stature is a major coup for Baylor. His research is famous among synthetic organic chemists for its elegance and originality," said Dr. Pat Farmer, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Baylor.

The CPRIT funding includes the establishment of a CPRIT Synthesis Facility at Baylor that will offer rapid automated chemical synthesis that should appeal to new start-up companies and the existing Texas research community. It also will provide a service for researchers from around the state to submit drug candidates for purity validation and to be packaged in a format suitable for biological screenings.

Baylor has had a Welch Chair since 1965, indicative of the university's long-term commitment to chemical research. Wood replaces the late Dr. Gordon Stone, another renowned synthetic chemist.

"World-class research in an academic institution requires dedication from the faculty and students engaged in the research and commitment from the institution and funding agencies that provide the infrastructure and support," Wood said. "Our move to Baylor represents a true opportunity for my research team to become a part of what is clearly a steadfast and continuing commitment to academic excellence, and I am truly excited at the prospect of helping Baylor to become one our country's premier research institutions."

Wood holds degrees from the University of Colorado and the University of Pennsylvania. He moved to Harvard University as an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow and continued studying natural products synthesis in the laboratories of Stuart Schreiber, then joined the faculty at Yale University in 1993 as an assistant professor (promoted to full professor in 1998). In 2006, he joined the faculty at Colorado State University as the Albert I. Meyers Professor of Chemistry.

He has received numerous awards, including a Glaxo-Wellcome Chemistry Scholar Award in 1996, and a Bristol-Myers Squibb Research Award in 1997. Wood was named as a 2004 Cope Scholar by the American Chemical Society, a Fellow to the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science in 2008 and received the Katritzky Award from the International Society of Heterocyclic Chemists in 2009. In 2011, he was elected to the Board of Editors for Organic Syntheses.