Research Day Speaker

Paul Hergenrother, PhD

Dr. Paul Hergenrother, PhD

Kenneth L. Rinehart Jr. Endowed Chair in Natural Products Chemistry and Professor of Chemistry

Professor, Department of Chemistry

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


Paul J. Hergenrother was born in 1972 and raised in Akron, Ohio. He attended the University of Notre Dame, where he received his B.S. in Chemistry in 1994. From there Paul moved to the University of Texas at Austin, to conduct graduate research under the direction of Professor Stephen F. Martin. While in the Martin laboratory Paul elucidated the catalytic mechanism of phospholipase C, and completed the total synthesis of erythromycin B. He graduated with his PhD in Chemistry in 1999, and moved on as an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow to Harvard University, where he worked in the laboratory of Professor Stuart L. Schreiber in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. While at Harvard Paul was involved in the development of small molecule microarrays as a platform for high-throughput compound screening.


He established his own laboratory in the Department of Chemistry (and as an affiliate in the Department of Biochemistry) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2001. He was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2006, to full professor in 2010, and in 2013 was named the Kenneth L. Rinehart Jr. Endowed Chair in Natural Products Chemistry. Professor Hergenrother is the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Vanquish Oncology, and an anticancer compound discovered by the Hergenrother lab is now being taken by cancer patients at the University of Illinois Cancer Center and at Johns Hopkins as part of a Phase 1 clinical trial. Professor Hergenrother has been the recipient of an NSF-CAREER Award, a Research Corporation Research Innovation Award, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, the GlaxoSmithKline Chemistry Scholar Award, the ACS David Robertson Award for Excellence in Medicinal Chemistry, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the ACS Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry, was named as an American Cancer Society Research Scholar, was named by Technology Review magazine as one of the top innovators under the age of 35, and was the recipient of the 2016 Innovation Transfer Award from the University of Illinois. More recently he was named as the recipient of the 2016 UCB-Ehrlich Award for Excellence in Medicinal Chemistry, of the 2016 Akron Section Award from the ACS, a 2017 ACS Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, and the 2018 ACS Sosnovsky Award for Cancer Research. At the University of Illinois Professor Hergenrother is the Leader of the IGB Theme “Anticancer Discovery from Pets to People”, and is the Director of the NIH Chemistry-Biology Interface Training Grant. Professor Hergenrother has served or serves on the editorial board/editorial advisory board for multiple journals, including Current Opinion in Chemical Biology, Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Organic Reactions, and ChemBioChem. The Hergenrother laboratory seeks to use small molecules to identify and validate novel targets for the treatment of intractable diseases, including cancer, degenerative disorders, and multi-drug resistant bacteria.