A couple of weeks ago I gave a talk at the Scripps Research Institute. My visit was superbly organized by Professor Phil Dawson, for which I am thankful. The highlight for me was to interact with my mentor, Professor Barry Sharpless, who celebrated his 75th birthday earlier this year. We have not seen each other for a while, but we picked back up as if we never parted. As much as ever, I felt energized after our long meeting, where we shared some memories from days past. Barry told me about his new passion, which is the SuFEx reaction for stitching molecules together. SuFEx is a “click” process, with Barry’s well-known stamp written all over it. There are some spectacular new papers about to come out of the Sharpless lab on the subject, but you can take a look at this published one for starters: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anie.201309399/abstract. Speaking of Barry’s other famously known click transformation, I received a sweet present – a set of copper balls, in association with the copper catalysts used in the azide-alkyne cycloaddition. Barry told me: “Andrei, now you need to shine your new balls”. By the way, these things are heavy, about a pound or so each. The most memorable part of this trip, though, came during Q & A session after my talk. A good chunk of the lecture was related to one of my lab’s current interests, namely the relationship between hydrolase inhibitor design and boron / oxygen reversible interactions (we have an interesting paper with Professor Ben Cravatt’s lab that will be sent out soon). Toward the end, Barry made some insightful remarks related to the boron work and one of them has stuck with me. On the pervasive coordination of oxygen to boron in some of our systems, Barry quipped: “…these two deserve each other”. What can I say? This was vintage Barry.
Did you have trouble with the copper balls at the airport? I heard people have hard time with their Nobel prizes at the customs/airports.
So…. funny you would ask. I definitely anticipated that I might have trouble at the airport, but there was none! I even had these balls in my carry-on and nothing happened.
Andrei! Happy new year!!! I just saw your blog and this post. It’s certainly been a very long time. I hope all is well. I haven’t been to Toronto in a while but next time I’ll come by. Shahla
Good to hear from you, Shahla. Come by any time.