Baylor Chemistry Professor Receives the Prestigious 2024 Ernest Guenther Award from the American Chemical Society

The American Chemical Society honors John L. Wood, Ph.D., for outstanding achievement in the analysis, structure elucidation and chemical synthesis of natural products.

September 7, 2023
John L. Wood, Ph.D.

John L. Wood, Ph.D., The Robert A. Welch Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and co-director of the Baylor Synthesis and Drug-Lead Discovery Lab

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WACO, Texas (Sept. 7, 2023) – John L. Wood, Ph.D., The Robert A. Welch Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and co-director of the Baylor Synthesis and Drug-Lead Discovery Lab, has received the Ernest Guenther Award in the Chemistry of Natural Products from the American Chemical Society. Wood will be honored at the awards ceremony in April 2024 in conjunction with the ACS spring meeting in New Orleans.

The prestigious award recognizes Wood for outstanding achievements in the analysis, structure elucidation and chemical synthesis of natural products. Past recipients include five Nobel Prize laureates: Derek H.R. Barton, Konrad E. Bloch, John Cornforth, Elias J. Corey and Satoshi Omura.  

“I was delighted to learn that I would receive the American Chemical Society’s 2024 Ernest Guenther Award,” Wood said. “Of the 53 awards given internationally by the ACS, only four are directly related to my research, and of these the Guenther Award is the longest standing. To be named among a group of recipients that includes many heroic figures in our field and a few Nobel Laureates is something for which I am extremely honored.”

Wood’s research focuses on developing chemical syntheses of naturally occurring molecules that possess medicinal properties – an area of chemistry he finds endlessly inspiring.

“The chemical synthesis of naturally occurring molecules has led chemists to make important advances in areas ranging from drug development to materials science,” he said. “No matter how many times they are targeted for synthesis or successfully prepared, they continue to fuel creativity and scientific achievement in our field and beyond."

Wood and fellow chemist Daniel S. Romo, Ph.D., co-direct the Baylor Synthesis and Drug-Lead Discovery Laboratory, which focuses on the development and application of chemo- and site-selective methods for the derivatization of biologically and pharmacologically important natural products and other bioactive small molecules. Since derivatization for structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies and reaction optimization play fundamental roles in drug discovery, the laboratory’s high-throughput capabilities drive collaboration and discovery among an interdisciplinary group of researchers extending beyond Baylor to both the national and international levels.

“We congratulate Dr. Wood on receiving the Ernest Guenther Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions in chemistry,” said Lee Nordt, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Baylor. “During his 10 years as our Robert A. Welch Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, he has been an exceptional scientist, educator and mentor, and has been a significant contributor as Baylor achieved R1 status in 2021. We thank Dr. Wood for his leadership, vision and accomplishments, and join with his colleagues to celebrate his recognition by the American Chemical Society.”

“John has been an important catalyst in the growth of Baylor’s research enterprise, and it’s wonderful to see the creative synthetic chemistry work that he and his research team do be honored by ACS,” said Kevin Chambliss, Ph.D., vice provost for research at Baylor.

Wood received his B.S. from the University of Colorado-Boulder and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He came to Baylor in 2013 after serving as a faculty member at Yale University for 13 years and seven years at Colorado State. His appointment at Baylor was made possible in part by a $4.2 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

He has received numerous honors and awards throughout his career, including a Fellowship in the Royal Society of Chemistry, Honorary Member of the Sociedad Argentina de Investigacion en Quimica Organica and American Chemical Society Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award.

The Ernest Guenther Award in the Chemistry of Natural Products was established in 1948 by Fritzsche Dodge and Olcott Inc. in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the company. Givaudan acquired by Fritzsche Dodge and Olcott Inc. in 1990 and has supported the award since 1992.


The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS’ mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and all its people. The Society is a global leader in promoting excellence in science education and providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a leader in scientific information solutions, its CAS division partners with global innovators to accelerate breakthroughs by curating, connecting and analyzing the world’s scientific knowledge. ACS’ main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.


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