Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry
The University of Iowa
Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry
Iowa City, IA 52242
Tel. (319) 335-8849
As a young chemistry student, Horacio learned about the origins of the steroid industry in Mexico and was intrigued by the microbial hydroxylation of an unfunctionalized carbon of progesterone en route to the synthesis of cortisone. Another important microbial transformation attracted his interest. He learned that the microbial dihydroxylation of substituted benzenes utilizing mutant strains of Pseudomas putida to yield enantiomerically pure cyclohexadienediols had immense synthetic potential and joined the group of Prof. Tomas Hudlicky at Virginia Tech as a graduate student (1992 PhD). After completing his doctoral degree, he moved to Exeter in southeast England and worked in the laboratories of Prof. Stanley M. Roberts. After an 18 month postdoctoral stint in Roberts’ group, he moved back to Virginia, to the laboratories of Prof. Sidney M. Hecht at the University of Virginia, where he spent another 18 month postdoctoral stint. He started his academic career in the Division of Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry at The University of Iowa in 1995. His main research area is the utilization of microorganisms and enzymes in solving problems in synthetic organic chemistry. C-H Hydroxylation of unfunctionalized carbons is currently a hot topic in synthetic organic chemistry Interestingly, oxidative enzymes capable of performing these reactions have mostly been ignored by chemists. Utilizing microorganisms and enzymes, his group has completed the syntheses of several important natural products and biologically relevant molecules. His research program also includes the use of abundant natural products as starting materials for the synthesis of biologically and medicinally significant molecules.