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, Physiology & Biophysics, Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine
  • Member, BU-BMC Cancer Center, Boston University
  • Member, Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research, Boston University


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


  • Published on 2/20/2024

    Fallah S, Duncan D, Reichl KD, Smith MJ, Wang W, Porco JA, Brown LE, Whitesell L, Robbins N, Cowen LE. A chemical screen identifies structurally diverse metal chelators with activity against the fungal pathogen Candida albicans. Microbiol Spectr. 2024 Apr 02; 12(4):e0409523. PMID: 38376363.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 2/6/2024

    Ji K, Johnson RP, McNeely J, Al Faruk M, Porco JA. Asymmetric Synthesis of Nidulalin A and Nidulaxanthone A: Selective Carbonyl Desaturation Using an Oxoammonium Salt. J Am Chem Soc. 2024 Feb 21; 146(7):4892-4902. PMID: 38319883.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/1/2023

    Millimaci AM, Trilles RV, McNeely JH, Brown LE, Beeler AB, Porco JA. Synthesis of Neocannabinoids Using Controlled Friedel-Crafts Reactions. J Org Chem. 2023 Sep 15; 88(18):13135-13141. PMID: 37657122.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 3/7/2023

    Naineni SK, Cencic R, Robert F, Brown LE, Haque M, Scott-Talib J, Sénéchal P, Schmeing TM, Porco JA, Pelletier J. Exploring the targeting spectrum of rocaglates among eIF4A homologs. RNA. 2023 Jun; 29(6):826-835. PMID: 36882295.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/31/2022

    Shaashua L, Ben-Shmuel A, Pevsner-Fischer M, Friedman G, Levi-Galibov O, Nandakumar S, Barki D, Nevo R, Brown LE, Zhang W, Stein Y, Lior C, Kim HS, Bojmar L, Jarnagin WR, Lecomte N, Mayer S, Stok R, Bishara H, Hamodi R, Levy-Lahad E, Golan T, Porco JA, Iacobuzio-Donahue CA, Schultz N, Tuveson DA, Lyden D, Kelsen D, Scherz-Shouval R. BRCA mutational status shapes the stromal microenvironment of pancreatic cancer linking clusterin expression in cancer associated fibroblasts with HSF1 signaling. Nat Commun. 2022 Oct 31; 13(1):6513. PMID: 36316305.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/6/2022

    Lehman SL, Wechsler T, Schwartz K, Brown LE, Porco JA, Devine WG, Pelletier J, Shankavaram UT, Camphausen K, Tofilon PJ. Inhibition of the Translation Initiation Factor eIF4A Enhances Tumor Cell Radiosensitivity. Mol Cancer Ther. 2022 Sep 06; 21(9):1406-1414. PMID: 35732578.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/6/2022

    Yang F, Porco JA. Unified, Asymmetric Total Synthesis of the Asnovolins and Related Spiromeroterpenoids: A Fragment Coupling Approach. J Am Chem Soc. 2022 Jul 20; 144(28):12970-12978. PMID: 35792599.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 6/18/2022

    Praditya DF, Klöhn M, Brüggemann Y, Brown LE, Porco JA, Zhang W, Kinast V, Kirschning A, Vondran FWR, Todt D, Steinmann E. Identification of structurally re-engineered rocaglates as inhibitors against hepatitis E virus replication. Antiviral Res. 2022 Aug; 204:105359. PMID: 35728703.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 11/3/2021

    Xu W, Brown LE, Porco JA. Divergent, C-C Bond Forming Macrocyclizations Using Modular Sulfonylhydrazone and Derived Substrates. J Org Chem. 2021 12 03; 86(23):16485-16510. PMID: 34730970.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/16/2021

    Shen L, Pugsley L, Cencic R, Wang H, Robert F, Naineni SK, Sahni A, Morin G, Zhang W, Nijnik A, Porco JA, Langlais D, Huang S, Pelletier J. A forward genetic screen identifies modifiers of rocaglate responsiveness. Sci Rep. 2021 09 16; 11(1):18516. PMID: 34531456.

    Read at: PubMed

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