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Biological Chemistry

Ernest Guenther Award In The Chemistry Of Natural Products: Eric Block

by Linda Wang
January 4, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 1

Sponsor: Givaudan

Citation: For his seminal, career-spanning research on sulfur-containing natural products, especially those from genus Allium plants, and on the chemistry of olfaction.

Current position: Carla Rizzo Delray Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, University at Albany, SUNY

Education: B.S., chemistry, Queens College, City University of New York; M.S., Ph.D., chemistry, Harvard University

Block on overcoming obstacles: “My research on the chemistry of olfaction required that I work closely with neurobiologists. This required me to develop a solid understanding of this field, which proved challenging given that my background was not in biology. But there has been a pattern of collaboration throughout my career. One of the ways I knew I could make a mark for myself was finding a companion to create a situation where the two of us could do something that neither of us could do alone.”

What his colleagues say: “The chemistry of these deceptively small molecules often proved to be hellaciously difficult. It was as if the compounds had a diabolical intent of their own. It is a great tribute to Eric’s persistence and intellect that he has been able to unravel so many of their secrets to become both the father and, still, the clear leader of this field.”—Thomas R. Hoye, University of Minnesota

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