Robert Eckles Swain Professor in Chemistry Robert Waymouth investigates new catalytic strategies to create useful new molecules, including bioactive polymers, synthetic fuels, and sustainable plastics. In one such breakthrough, Professor Waymouth and Professor Wender developed a new class of gene delivery agents.
Born in 1960 in Warner Robins, Georgia, Robert Waymouth studied chemistry and mathematics at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia (B.S. and B.A., respectively, both summa cum laude, 1982). He developed an interest in synthetic and mechanistic organometallic chemistry during his doctoral studies in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology under Professor R.H. Grubbs (Ph.D., 1987). His postdoctoral research with Professor Piero Pino at the Institut fur Polymere, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, focused on catalytic hydrogenation with chiral metallocene catalysts. He joined the Stanford University faculty as assistant professor in 1988, becoming full professor in 1997 and in 2000 the Robert Eckles Swain Professor of Chemistry.
Today, the Waymouth Group applies mechanistic principles to develop new concepts in catalysis, with particular focus on the development of organometallic and organic catalysts for the synthesis of complex macromolecular architectures. In organometallic catalysis, the group devised a highly selective alcohol oxidation catalyst that selectively oxidizes unprotected polyols and carbohydrates to alpha-hyroxyketones. In collaboration with Dr. James Hedrick of IBM, we have developed a platform of highly active organic catalysts and continuous flow reactors that provide access to polymer architectures that are difficult to access by conventional approaches.
The Waymouth group has devised selective organocatalytic strategies for the synthesis of functional degradable polymers and oligomers that function as "molecular transporters" to deliver genes, drugs and probes into cells and live animals. These advances led to the joint discovery with the Wender group of a general, safe, and remarkably effective concept for RNA delivery based on a new class of synthetic cationic materials, Charge-Altering Releasable Transporters (CARTs). This technology has been shown to be effective for mRNA based cancer vaccines.
Zhang, X., & Waymouth, R. M. (2017). 1,2-Dithiolane-Derived Dynamic, Covalent Materials: Cooperative Self-Assembly and Reversible Cross-Linking. Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Lin, S., & Waymouth, R. M. (2002). 2-arylindene metallocenes: Conformationally dynamic catalysts to control the structure and properties of polypropylenes. ACCOUNTS OF CHEMICAL RESEARCH, 35(9), 765–773.
Leclerc, M. K., & Waymouth, R. M. (1998). Alternating ethene/propene copolymerization with a metallocene catalyst. ANGEWANDTE CHEMIE-INTERNATIONAL EDITION, 37(7), 922–25.
Fan, W., Leclerc, M. K., & Waymouth, R. M. (2001). Alternating stereospecific copolymerization of ethylene and propylene with metallocene catalysts. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, 123(39), 9555–63.
Haabeth, O. A., Lohmeyer, J. J., Sallets, A., Blake, T. R., Sagiv-Barfi, I., Czerwinski, D. K., … Levy, R. (2021). An mRNA SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Employing Charge-Altering Releasable Transporters with a TLR-9 Agonist Induces Neutralizing Antibodies and T Cell Memory. ACS Central Science, 7(7), 1191–1204.
Zhang, X., Fevre, M., Jones, G. O., & Waymouth, R. M. (2018). Catalysis as an Enabling Science for Sustainable Polymers. Chemical Reviews, 118(2), 839–85.
Ingram, A. J., Walker, K. L., Zare, R. N., & Waymouth, R. M. (2015). Catalytic Role of Multinuclear Palladium-Oxygen Intermediates in Aerobic Oxidation Followed by Hydrogen Peroxide Disproportionation. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, 137(42), 13632–46.
McKinlay, C. J., Waymouth, R. M., & Wender, P. A. (2016). Cell-Penetrating, Guanidinium-Rich Oligophosphoesters: Effective and Versatile Molecular Transporters for Drug and Probe Delivery. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, 138(10), 3510–17.
McKinlay, C. J., Vargas, J. R., Blake, T. R., Hardy, J. W., Kanada, M., Contag, C. H., … Waymouth, R. M. (2017). Charge-altering releasable transporters (CARTs) for the delivery and release of mRNA in living animals. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 114(4), E448–E456.
Wilk, A. J., Weidenbacher, N. L.-B., Vergara, R., Haabeth, O. A., Levy, R., Waymouth, R. M., … Blish, C. A. (2020). Charge-altering releasable transporters enable phenotypic manipulation of natural killer cells for cancer immunotherapy. Blood Advances, 4(17), 4244–55.