Dr Gerard McGlacken

Dr Gerard McGlacken obtained his Ph.D. at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He then moved to the University of York (UK) where he worked on organometallic transformations with Prof. Ian J. S. Fairlamb. A year later, he took up a ‘Molecular Design and Synthesis Post-Doctoral Fellowship’ at Florida State University (US) working with Prof. Robert A. Holton. He obtained a Lectureship position at University College Cork, Ireland in 2007.
His current research is in the area of organic, organometallic and asymmetric synthesis.
Dr McGlacken has published in high impact journals such as Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., Chem. Sci., Chem. Commun., Org. Lett., and has received over 1000 citations.
He works closely with the Pharmaceutical Industry both in Ireland and the United States and has received targeted grants with Eli Lilly (2010) and Merck (2015) as part of the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership program.
Dr McGlacken is a Funded Investigator within the Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC) research centre, a global hub of pharmaceutical process innovation and advanced manufacturing, and a unique collaboration between 17 industry partners, 8 academic institutions and 12 international academic collaborators, which has received over €40 million in funding.
Dr McGlacken is Vice-Chairman of the COST action CHAOS.


Research within the McGlacken Group focuses on 3 main areas.

Asymmetric Synthesis

Importantly, 60% of all drugs now containing at least one chiral centre. Here we work on the synthesis of chiral α-substituted ketones (Chem. Commun.2014, 50, 14817) and chiral amino alcohols (Org. Lett.2015, 17, 5642).

Organometallic transformations

For decades well-known reactions such as the Suzuki-Miyaura have been the methods of choice to furnish biaryls. More recently however, more desirable alternative methods, most notably, direct arylation via C-H activation have become the focus of many research groups including ours (Chem. Soc. Rev.2009, 38, 2447). We use C-H activation in biologically important synthons such as pyrones (Nat. Prod. Rep., 2005, 3, 369, Org. Lett., 2016, accepted, ol-2016-00751g).

We are also interested in the homogeneous/heterogeneous interface (Chem. Sci.2015, 6, 5338 and Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2014, 53, 4142).

Synthesis of non-traditional antibiotics and biomarker detection

Bacteria produce small-molecule signals to help coordinate their behavior. We prepare molecules which interfere with their communication systems (Org. Biomol. Chem., 2015, 5537). In this non-biocidal approach, developed resistance is avoided. In parallel, we work on the early detection of these molecules which allows for early medical intervention (Chem. Commun.2011, 47, 10347).

The Irish Chemical Industry exported €44.17 billion euro worth of Pharmaceuticals in 2009. Key skills acquired within the McGlacken group will equip researchers with the essentials to progress into this Sector.