Viresh H. Rawal Professor

Born India, 1958.
University of Connecticut, B.S., 1980.
University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D., 1986.
Columbia University, Postdoctoral Fellow, 1986-1988.
The Ohio State University, Assistant Professor, 1988-1994; Associate Professor, 1994-1995.
The University of Chicago, Professor, 1995-.


Editorial Advisory Board Member, Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2004-2007.
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2004.
National Institutes of Health - Medicinal Chemistry Study Section Member 1997, 1999-2003.
American Chemical Society Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, 2003.
Pfizer Research Award for Synthetic Organic Chemistry, 1995-98.
Merck Young Investigator Award, 1995.
Eli Lilly Granteeship, 1993-94.
American Cyanamid Faculty Award, 1994.
American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Research Award, 1990-93.
DuPont Young Faculty Award, 1988-89.

OFFICE: SCL 334, 5735 S Ellis Ave, Chicago, IL 60637

PHONE: (773)702-2194

FAX: (773)702-0805




Chemistry is, ultimately, about chemical reactions-developing them, understanding them, and using them to make interesting, useful molecules. Much of the activity in my research group is aimed at discovering new ways to make complex molecules, including the design of unique strategies to certain families of natural products and the development of broadly effective methods for chemical synthesis.

The targets for our synthesis studies are selected for their intricate structures as well as their potent biological activities. We strive to devise routes that are concise, stereocontrolled, and high-yielding, and proceed through strategies that examine interesting aspects of structure and reactivity. Among the targets that we have successfully synthesized are: 5-oxo-silphiperfol-6-ene, (+)-tabersonine, geissoschizal, elisapterosin B, and strychnine.


The targets that we are currently pursuing include the clinically important anticancer agent vinblastine, and the potent antiviral and anticancer agent mycalamide A.


In recent years, a significant part of my group has focused on the development of effective catalysts for enantioselective reactions. The biologically important Aspidosperma family of alkaloids have provided the motivation for much of this work. We have found that salen-based chiral complexes catalyze the Diels-Alder reactions of amino-substituted dienes and a broad range of dienophiles, so as to produce the cycloadducts in high yields and excellent enantioselectivities.


Significantly, we have discovered that TADDOL, a simple, commercially available chiral alcohol, functions as a catalyst for highly enantioselective cycloadditions. Reminiscent of enzymes and antibodies, hydrogen bonding to TADDOL provides both tremendous rate acceleration and exquisite selection for the formation of one enantiomer of the product.

Selected References

Zhu, Y.; Malerich, J. P.; Rawal, V. H. “Squaramide-Catalyzed Enantioselective Michael Addition of Diphenyl Phosphite to Nitroalkenes,” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2010, 49, 153-156.

Gondi, V. B.; Hagihara, K.; Rawal, V. ,H., “Diastereoselective and Enantioselective Synthesis of Tertiary α-hydroxyphosphonates via Hydrogen Bond Catalysis,” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2009, 47, 776-779.

Malerich, J. P.; Hagihara, K.; Rawal, V. H. "Chiral Squaramide Derivatives are Excellent Hydrogen Bond Donor Catalysts," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2008, 130, 14416-14417.

Hayashida, J.; Rawal, V. H. "Total Synthesis of (+/-)-platencin," Angew. Chem., Int. Ed., 2008, 47, 4373-4376.

Jewett, J. C.; Rawal, V. H. “Total Synthesis of Pederin,” Angew. Chem., Int. Ed., 2007, 46, 6502-6504.

Unni, A. K.; Takenaka, N.; Yamamoto, H.; Rawal, V. H. “Axially Chiral Biaryl Diols Catalyze Highly Enantioselective Hetero-Diels-Alder Reactions Through Hydrogen Bonding.” Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2005, 127, (5), 1336-1337.

Thadani, A. N.; Stankovic, A. R.; Rawal, V. H. "Enantioselective Diels-Alder Reactions Catalyzed by Hydrogen Bonding." P. N. A. S., 2004,101, 5846-5850.

Huang, Y.; Unni, A. K.; Thadani, A. N.; Rawal, V. H. "Hydrogen Bonding by a Chiral Alcohol to an Aldehyde Catalyzes Highly Enantioselective Reactions." Nature, 2003, 424, 146.