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Roche Symposium Showcases Accomplishments of Next Generation of Chemists

NUTLEY, N.J., June 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Roche honored 11 outstanding Ph.D. students and two professors with the company's Excellence in Chemistry Award for research accomplishments in the field of organic chemistry. The winners are participating in Roche's annual two-day Roche Symposium: Excellence in Chemistry to gain first hand knowledge on the important role organic chemistry plays in pharmaceutical discovery.

"This symposium serves as recognition of graduate students and faculty members who are providing fundamental advances in the field of synthetic organic chemistry," said Hans-Joachim Boehm, Ph.D., vice president and head, Medicinal Chemistry Nutley, global head, Chemistry at Roche. " It is also a unique opportunity to bring together researchers in academia and at Roche to explore advances in chemistry and how they might be translated into new, beneficial medicines and provide a greater understanding of the vital role organic chemistry plays in pharmaceutical drug development."

During the symposium, students will have opportunities to discuss their research projects, hear overviews of the drug discovery process by Roche scientists, and case histories in medicinal and process chemistry as well as tour the Nutley campus. There will also be plenary lectures by the 2010 faculty award winners: Professor Tomislav Rovis of Colorado State University and Professor Richmond Sarpong of the University of California, Berkeley.

2010 Student Recipients

Representing a range of prestigious institutions, the 11 winners this year are: Robert Aversa (The Scripps Research Institute), Ming Chen (The Scripps Research Institute, Scripps Florida), Daniel DiRocco (Colorado State University), Christopher D. Grant (University of Texas at Austin), Dave Martin (University of California, Irvine), Christopher Morten (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Alison Hardin Narayan (University of California, Berkeley), Narae Park (California Institute of Technology), Filip Petronijevic (University of Pittsburgh), Alex Speed (Harvard University), and Dan Treitler (Columbia University).

Selection Process

Students were chosen by the chemistry departments at their respective universities.  Eligible students were those who might be interested in the pharmaceutical industry as a career and are one to two years from completing their Ph.D. Besides the opportunity to attend and present their research projects at the Chemistry Symposium, the students each received a crystal award and an honorarium. Professors Rovis and Sarpong each received an unrestricted grant to support their ongoing research in addition to the honorarium.  

Featured Presentations

Dan Treitler, Columbia University -- Strategies for Halonium-Induced Carbocyclizations

Christopher D. Grant, University of Texas at Austin -- Progress Towards the Total Synthesis of Amauromine

Filip Petronijevic, University of Pittsburgh -- New Adventures in Indole Synthesis: Towards the Total Synthesis of Cycloclavine  

Dave Martin, University of California, Irvine -- Six-Step Synthesis of Strychnine

Narae Park, California Institute of Technology -- Development of Palladium-Catalyzed Oxidative Transformation and Application in Synthesis of Erythrina Alkaloids

Alex Speed, Harvard University -- A Diels-Alder Approach to the Spiro-Iminium Core of Spiro-Prorocentrimine

Alison Hardin Narayan, University of California, Berkeley -- Development of a Metal-Free Synthesis of Indolizines and Indolizinones: Application to the Synthesis of Indolizidine Alkaloids

Daniel DiRocco, Colorado State University -- Development of the Asymmetric Intermolecular Stetter Reaction Catalyzed by Chiral N-Heterocyclic Carbenes

Ming Chen, The Scripps Research Institute, Scripps Florida -- Development of Functionalized Chiral Allylboranes via Allene Hydroboration and Applications in Natural Product Synthesis

Christopher Morten, Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- The Development of Endo-Selective Epoxide-Opening Cascades in Water

Robert Aversa, The Scripps Research Institute -- A Furan-Based Strategy Towards the Total Synthesis of Maitotoxin

Professor Richmond Sarpong, University of California, Berkeley -- Strategies and Tactics Inspired by Complex Natural Products

Professor Tomislav Rovis, Colorado State University -- Ring Forming Strategies in Asymmetric Catalysis

About Roche

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world's largest biotech company with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, virology, inflammation, metabolism and CNS. Roche is also the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics, tissue-based cancer diagnostics and a pioneer in diabetes management. Roche's personalized healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostic tools that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of patients. In 2009, Roche had over 80,000 employees worldwide and invested almost 10 billion Swiss francs in R&D ($9.1B US). The Group posted sales of 49.1 billion Swiss francs ($45.1B US). Genentech, United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche has a majority stake in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information: or

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