SCI Gordon E. Moore Medal

John A. McCauley

John A. McCauley

The Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), America Section, will award the 12th annual SCI Gordon E. Moore Medal to John A. McCauley of Merck and Company at a luncheon in his honor on Innovation Day 2015. The luncheon, hosted jointly by SCI and the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) on October 6, 2015, at CHF headquarters in Philadelphia, gathers more than 150 leading researchers from industrial laboratories to discuss current trends and issues in chemical research.

McCauley is currently working as a director of medicinal chemistry in the field of hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease inhibitor drug design and synthesis at Merck Research Laboratories in West Point, Pennsylvania. HCV infection continues to represent a major health issue, with estimates of 130 million to 170 million people infected worldwide. Though hepatitis C is slow to progress, the disease ultimately leads to liver damage in up to 50% of affected individuals as well as carcinoma in a significant number of cases. Until 2011 standard treatment for HCV-infected patients was effective about 40% to 50% of the time. The success rate is improving dramatically with the introduction of new protease inhibitors.

Using a molecular modeling approach based on the enzyme crystal structure of HCV NS3 protease, McCauley and his team developed a strategy for macrocyclization of compounds to enhance interaction with the enzyme. To achieve these compounds they designed a new synthetic route for constructing complex 20-membered macrocycles. His skills in design and synthesis led to multiple novel series of compounds with good pharmacokinetics and activity against resistant HCV mutant viruses. His efforts on these series were rewarded with the discovery of Vanihep and grazoprevir, a next-generation compound currently in phase III clinical studies. 

Over the past 17 years McCauley and his group have been involved in the design and synthesis of nine compounds entering clinical development, including HCV NS3/4a protease inhibitors and additional compounds from antiviral and neuroscience programs. McCauley has coauthored 37 publications and is an inventor on 23 issued patents and 17 pending patent applications. He is also a frequent guest lecturer who has given 18 invited presentations at national meetings and academic venues.

McCauley earned a BA with honors in chemistry from Swarthmore College in 1991 and a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania, where he completed the total synthesis of rapamycin in the laboratory of Amos B. Smith III. After working at Harvard University as an NIH postdoctoral fellow with Yoshito Kishi, he joined Merck in 1998 as a senior research chemist.

Past SCI Gordon E. Moore Medalists:

  • Andrew Taggi (2014)
  • Jerzy Klosin (2013)
  • Dean Rende (2012)
  • Doron Levin (2011)
  • Emmett Crawford (2010)
  • Emma Parmee (2009)
  • Edmund M. Carnahan (2008)
  • Paul A. Sagel (2007)
  • Jonathan M. McConnachie (2006)
  • Jeffrey John Hale (2005)
  • George Barclay (2004)

About the SCI Gordon E. Moore Medal

The Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) has established the SCI Gordon E. Moore Medal to recognize early-career success in innovation, as reflected both in market impact and improvement to quality of life. By highlighting extraordinary individuals and their work, SCI aims to promote public understanding of research and development in modern chemical industries, enhance the interest of students in applied chemistry by providing role models, and emphasize the role of creative research in the global economy. For more information, see SCI Gordon E. Moore Medal on the SCI Web site.

The Society of Chemical Industry, America Section, is a CHF Affiliate.

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