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Barry Trost has received the 2020 Sir Derek Barton Gold Medal

Barry Trost

Professor Barry Trost
Winner: 2020 Sir Derek Barton Gold Medal

For continued wide ranging contributions to the development of new synthetic methods employing transition metal catalysts, and the application of these methods to the efficient (atom economic), asymmetric synthesis of complex targets of biological interest.


"To be selected as an awardee bestows upon me an acknowledgment that we have changed the practice of science, an achievement of the highest order." Professor Barry Trost.

At the heart of chemistry is the design of structure for function. Chemistry solves the problems of society, ranging from basic human needs like food, clothing, and healthcare to high tech electronic materials by making the designed structure available regardless of the structural complexity through chemical synthesis. Thus, a critical challenge requires an enhancement in the efficiency (step economy) and selectivity (atom economy) of the available synthetic methodology or toolbox.

The long-term goal and defining mission of Professor Trost’s career has been toward enhancing synthetic effectiveness. He has virtually created whole new methodologies and strategies in organic synthesis. Among the areas which he has pioneered are the use of sulphur-based reagents and transition metal, most notably palladium, and more recently ruthenium, catalysts in complex settings.


Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Professor Barry Trost obtained a BA degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1962 and PhD degree three years later at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1965). He directly moved to the University of Wisconsin where he was promoted to Professor in 1969 and subsequently became the Vilas Research Professor in 1982. He joined Stanford in 1987 and became Tamaki Professor of Humanities and Sciences in 1990.  In addition, he has been Visiting Professor in Germany (Universities of Marburg, Hamburg, Munich and Heidelberg), Denmark (University of Copenhagen), France (Universities of Paris VI and Paris-Sud), Italy (University of Pisa) and Spain (University of Barcelona). He received honorary degrees from the Université Claude-Bernard (Lyon I), France (1994), and the Technion, Haifa, Israel (1997).

In recognition of his many contributions, Professor Trost has received a large number of awards, a few of which are the ACS Award in Pure Chemistry (1977), the Dr. Paul Janssen Prize (1990), the ASSU Graduate Teaching Award (1991), Bing Teaching Award (1993), the ACS Roger Adams Award (1995), the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (1998), the Belgian Organic Synthesis Symposium Elsevier Award (2000), the ACS Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry (2002), the ACS Cope Award (2004), the Nagoya Medal (2008), the Ryoji Noyori Prize (2013), the International Precious Metals Institute’s Tanaka Distinguished Achievement Award (2014),  the German Chemical Society’s August-Wilhelm-von-Hofmann Denkmuenze (2014), the Tetrahedron Prize (2014), and the ACS Linus Pauling Award (2015). Professor Trost has also been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Sciences (1982) and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (1980).


1. What motivates you? 

      "Changing the practice of the science by improving the toolbox to make it safer, more efficient and 
more selective."

2.  What has been your biggest challenge?

       "Navigating uncharted waters by inventing new methodology."

3.   What is something you are looking forward to?

       "Seeing the application by others of our synthetic methodology."