John A. Porco, PhD

Professor, Chemistry

John Porco
590 Commonwealth Ave


John Porco investigates chemical syntheses of complex molecules and synthesis of complex chemical libraries of novel structural types. John joined the Department of Chemistry at Boston University in 1999 after a successful career in industry and was rapidly promoted to Professor of Chemistry in September 2004.

Research in the Porco Group is focused in two major areas: the development of new synthetic methodologies for efficient chemical synthesis of complex molecules and synthesis of complex chemical libraries, the latter conducted at the Boston University Center for Molecular Discovery. Synthetic methodologies developed in the Porco Laboratory include copper (I)-mediated formation of enamides, oxa-electrocyclization/dimerization of dienals enroute to complex epoxyquinoids; enantioselective oxidative dearomatization using chiral copper complexes and molecular oxygen; photocycloaddition using oxidopyryliums enroute to the rocaglamides and related natural products, and catalytic ester-amide exchange using group (IV) metal alkoxide-activator complexes.

-Dearomatization Strategies in Complex Synthesis aim to utilize aromatic scaffolds as starting materials as precursors to complex natural products.

-Faculty Profile Scientific Image Porco 1Biomimetic Synthesis Approaches involve development of methodologies to test plausible biosyntheses of complex natural products and derivatives.

-New Reaction Discovery is done in conjunction with the BU-CMD and aims to discover transformations leading to novel chemotypes.

Techniques & Resources:

-Organic Synthesis techniques are used and include modern methods for synthesis, purification, and analysis of organic molecules
-Boston University Center for Molecular Discovery (BU-CMD) is an NIH-funded Center at Boston University which focuses on development of new methodologies for the synthesis of complex chemical libraries.

Other Positions

  • Professor, Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, Boston University School of Medicine


  • Harvard University, PhD
  • College of the Holy Cross, DEng
  • Yale University, MS
  • College of the Holy Cross, BA


  • Published on 2/20/2018

    Langlais D, Cencic R, Moradin N, Kennedy JM, Ayi K, Brown LE, Crandall I, Tarry MJ, Schmeing M, Kain KC, Porco JA, Pelletier J, Gros P. Rocaglates as dual-targeting agents for experimental cerebral malaria. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Mar 06; 115(10):E2366-E2375. PMID: 29463745.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/29/2018

    Qi C, Wang W, Reichl KD, McNeely J, Porco JA. Total Synthesis of Aurofusarin: Studies on the Atropisomeric Stability of Bis-Naphthoquinones. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2018 Feb 19; 57(8):2101-2104. PMID: 29318760.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/13/2017

    Wang W, Clay A, Krishnan R, Lajkiewicz NJ, Brown LE, Sivaguru J, Porco JA. Total Syntheses of the Isomeric Aglain Natural Products Foveoglin A and Perviridisin B: Selective Excited-State Intramolecular Proton-Transfer Photocycloaddition. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2017 Nov 13; 56(46):14479-14482. PMID: 28950418.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/2/2017

    Reichl KD, Smith MJ, Song MK, Johnson RP, Porco JA. Biomimetic Total Synthesis of (±)-Griffipavixanthone via a Cationic Cycloaddition-Cyclization Cascade. J Am Chem Soc. 2017 Oct 11; 139(40):14053-14056. PMID: 28942643.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 6/11/2017

    Yueh H, Gao Q, Porco JA, Beeler AB. A photochemical flow reactor for large scale syntheses of aglain and rocaglate natural product analogues. Bioorg Med Chem. 2017 Dec 01; 25(23):6197-6202. PMID: 28666859.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 5/10/2017

    Manier S, Huynh D, Shen YJ, Zhou J, Yusufzai T, Salem KZ, Ebright RY, Shi J, Park J, Glavey SV, Devine WG, Liu CJ, Leleu X, Quesnel B, Roche-Lestienne C, Snyder JK, Brown LE, Gray N, Bradner J, Whitesell L, Porco JA, Ghobrial IM. Inhibiting the oncogenic translation program is an effective therapeutic strategy in multiple myeloma. Sci Transl Med. 2017 May 10; 9(389). PMID: 28490664.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/27/2016

    Boyce JH, Eschenbrenner-Lux V, Porco JA. Syntheses of (+)-30-epi-, (-)-6-epi-, (±)-6,30-epi-13,14-Didehydroxyisogarcinol and (±)-6,30-epi-Garcimultiflorone A Utilizing Highly Diastereoselective, Lewis Acid-Controlled Cyclizations. J Am Chem Soc. 2016 Nov 09; 138(44):14789-14797. PMID: 27744695.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/1/2016

    Hayashi M, Brown LE, Porco JA. Asymmetric Dearomatization/Cyclization Enables Access to Polycyclic Chemotypes. European J Org Chem. 2016 Oct; 2016(28):4800-4804. PMID: 28082832.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/1/2016

    Ingham OJ, Paranal RM, Smith WB, Escobar RA, Yueh H, Snyder T, Porco JA, Bradner JE, Beeler AB. Development of a Potent and Selective HDAC8 Inhibitor. ACS Med Chem Lett. 2016 Oct 13; 7(10):929-932. PMID: 27774131.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/15/2016

    Wang W, Cencic R, Whitesell L, Pelletier J, Porco JA. Synthesis of Aza-Rocaglates via ESIPT-Mediated (3+2) Photocycloaddition. Chemistry. 2016 Aug 16; 22(34):12006-10. PMID: 27338157.

    Read at: PubMed

View 155 more publications: View full profile at BUMC

View all profiles