Jon Ellman

Member of Yale faculty since 2010

Research Interests


The ability to rapidly and efficiently synthesize new chemical matter provides unlimited opportunities to discover and develop compounds with incredibly diverse properties and applications ranging from precise tools to study biological phenomena, to pharmaceutical agents to treat unmet medical conditions, to new methods of energy storage and production.

One way that the Ellman laboratory seeks to contribute to the incredible opportunities provided by chemical synthesis is through the design and development of efficient and general methods for achieving essential bond connections. For example, the Ellman laboratory has pioneered the development of tert-butanesulfinamide chemistry, which has rapidly become one of the most extensively used approaches for the asymmetric synthesis of amine-containing compounds, a class of structures that is especially prevalent in pharmaceutical agents. Another area of focus is the catalytic conversion of C-H to C-C bonds enabling the direct preparation of an incredibly diverse array of complex structures from simple precursors.

The Ellman laboratory also is engaged in the design and synthesis of structures that interact with biological systems. For example, tools continue to be developed to rapidly establish enzyme substrate specificity to provide a window into understanding enzyme function. Moreover, compounds are designed and developed to potently and selectively interact with specific biomolecular targets to define their biological role, establish relevance for the treatment of disease, and provide key starting points for drug development.


B.S. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1984
Ph.D. Harvard University, 1989
NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley, 1989-92


National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, 1984
National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1989 
National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, 1993
Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation Young Investigator Award, 1993
Burroughs Wellcome Fund Hitchings Award for Drug Design and Discovery, 1993
Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, 1994
Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, 1994
Eli Lilly Grantee Award, 1994
Cyanamid Faculty Award, 1994
Procter and Gamble Young Investigator, 1994
Joel H. Hildebrand Associate Professor Chair in Chemistry (UC Berkeley), 1996
Burroughs Wellcome Fund New Initiatives in Malaria Research Award, 1997
Department of Chemistry Teaching Award (UC Berkeley), 1998 
American Chemical Society Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, 2000
Society of Biomolecular Screening Achievement Award, 2003            
Scheele Award selected by the Swedish Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2003
Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, 2006
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2006
GlaxoSmithKline Chemistry Scholar Award, 2010
Royal Society of Chemistry Pedler Award, 2010
American Chemical Society Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods, 2012
Thomson Reuters ISI Highly Cited Researcher, 2015
Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2015
Yale Dylan Hixon ‘88 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Natural Sciences, 2016

Recent Publications

C. C. Tjin, K. D. Otley, T. D. Baguley, P. Kurup, J. Xu, A. C. Nairn, P. J. Lombroso, J. A. Ellman. Glutathione-Responsive Selenosulfide Prodrugs as a Platform Strategy for Potent and Selective Mechanism-Based Inhibition of Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases. ACS Cent. Sci.  2017, 3, 1322–1328.

J. A. Boerth, J. A. Ellman. A Convergent Synthesis of Functionalized Alkenyl Halides via Co(III)-Catalyzed Three-Component C-H Bond Addition. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.  2017, 56, 9976–9980.

K. Halskov, H. Roth, J. A. Ellman. Synthesis of [5,6]-Bicyclic Heterocycles with a Ring-Junction Nitrogen via Rh(III)-Catalyzed C-H Functionalization of Alkenyl Azoles. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.  2017, 56, 9183–9187.

S. Chen, V. Bacauanu, T. Knecht, B. Q. Mercado, R. G. Bergman, J. A. Ellman. New Regio- and Stereoselective Cascades via Unstabilized Azomethine Ylide Cycloadditions for the Synthesis of Highly Substituted Tropane and Indolizidine Frameworks. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 12664-12670.