John McCauley to Receive 2015 Gordon Moore Medal


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Merck Research Scientist John A. McCauley to Receive 12th Annual SCI Gordon E. Moore Medal

Innovative medicinal chemistry led to new treatments for hepatitis C virus

PHILADELPHIA, May 28, 2015 — The  Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), America Section, will award the 12th annual SCI Gordon E. Moore Medal to Dr. John A. McCauley of Merck & Co. at a luncheon in his honor on Innovation Day 2015. The luncheon, hosted jointly by SCI and the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) on October 6, 2015 at CHF headquarters in Philadelphia, gathers more than 150 leading researchers from industrial laboratories to discuss current trends and issues in chemical research.

The SCI established the Gordon E. Moore Medal to recognize early-career success in innovation, as reflected both in market impact and improvement to quality of life.

Using a molecular modeling approach, Dr. McCauley directed the design and synthesis of a novel class of protease inhibitors, offering a significant step forward in the treatment of the hepatitis C virus (HCV). His work led to a highly efficient and reliable synthesis sequence, with a ring-closing metathesis as the key step, which allowed investigation of this new series and resulted in the generation of potent analogs with good activity against resistant viruses. The efforts culminated in the discovery of Vanihep®, an HCV protease inhibitor marketed in Japan, and grazoprevir, a next-generation HCV protease inhibitor currently in Phase III development.

“From early in his career, John McCauley has demonstrated unique insight and innovation in the field of organic chemistry.” said Michael Graff, Chairman and CEO of American Air Liquide Holdings, Inc., and SCI America chairman.  “Dr. McCauley’s ability to visualize and successfully develop novel molecular compounds continues to drive great advancements in medicinal chemistry and more successful patient outcomes in the treatment of Hepatitis C.”

About John A. McCauley

Dr. John A. McCauley is a director of medicinal chemistry working in the field of HCV protease inhibitor drug design and synthesis at Merck Research Laboratories in West Point, Pa. HCV infection continues to represent a major health issue, with estimates of 130 million to 170 million people infected worldwide. Though hepatitis C is slow to progress, the disease ultimately leads to liver damage in up to 50% of affected individuals as well as carcinoma in a significant number of cases. Until 2011, standard treatment for HCV-infected patients was effective about 40% to 50% of the time. The success rate is improving dramatically with the introduction of new protease inhibitors.

Using a molecular modeling approach based on the enzyme crystal structure of HCV NS3 protease, Dr. McCauley and his team developed a strategy for macrocyclization of compounds to enhance interaction with the enzyme. To achieve these compounds, they designed a new synthetic route for constructing complex 20-membered macrocycles. His skills in design and synthesis led to multiple novel series of compounds with good pharmacokinetics and activity against resistant HCV mutant viruses. His efforts on these series were rewarded with the discovery of Vanihep® and grazoprevir, a next-generation compound currently in Phase III clinical studies.

Dr. McCauley earned a B.A. with honors in chemistry from Swarthmore College in 1991 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania, where he completed the total synthesis of rapamycin in the laboratory of Prof. Amos B. Smith, III. After working at Harvard University as an NIH postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Yoshito Kishi, he joined Merck in 1998 as a senior research chemist. He is currently a director of medicinal chemistry.

Over the past 17 years, Dr. McCauley and his group have been involved in the design and synthesis of nine compounds entering clinical development, including HCV NS3/4a protease inhibitors and additional compounds from antiviral and neuroscience programs. Dr. McCauley has co-authored 37 publications and is an inventor on 23 issued patents and 17 pending patent applications. In addition, he is a frequent guest lecturer who has given 18 invited presentations at national meetings and academic venues.

About the SCI Gordon E. Moore Medal
The Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) established the SCI Gordon E. Moore Medal to recognize early-career success in innovation, as reflected both in market impact and improvement to quality of life. By highlighting extraordinary individuals and their work, SCI aims to promote public understanding of research and development in modern chemical industries, enhance the interest of students in applied chemistry by providing role models, and emphasize the role of creative research in the global economy.

Past SCI Gordon E. Moore Medalists

 Now in its 12th year, the Moore Medal has recognized outstanding young technologists across the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

  • Andrew Taggi (2014)
  • Jerzy Klosin (2013)
  • Dean Rende (2012)
  • Doron Levin (2011)
  • Emmett Crawford (2010)
  • Emma Parmee (2009)
  • Edmund M. Carnahan (2008)
  • Paul A. Sagel (2007)
  • Jonathan M. McConnachie      (2006)
  • Jeffrey John Hale (2005)
  • George Barclay ( 2004)

About the Society of Chemical Industry

SCI America Section, launched in 1894, is part of the Society of Chemical Industry’s international organization. It provides a unique networking forum for chemical industry leaders, industrial scientists and technologists to exchange new business ideas and best practices. It celebrates achievement and promotes public awareness of the contributions of industrial chemistry and inspires students to enter technical careers. More at

SCI America Section also offers its members the opportunity to become part of an international network of industry thought leaders and researchers. Through specialized conferences, e-events and publications, it helps foster best practices in fields as diverse as fine and commodity chemicals, food, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, agriculture, and environmental protection. SCI America events are managed by CHF. This includes the SCI Perkin Medal Dinner, which takes place on the final evening of Innovation Day, a day and a half long program devoted to advances in industrial research. Innovation Day this year will be held on Oct. 5 and 6 at CHF’s building in Philadelphia.

About the Chemical Heritage Foundation

CHF fosters dialogue on science and technology in society. Our staff and fellows study the past in order to understand the present and inform the future. We focus on matter and materials and their effects on our modern world in territory ranging from the physical sciences and industries, through the chemical sciences and engineering, to the life sciences and technologies. We collect, preserve, and exhibit historical artifacts; engage communities of scientists and engineers; and tell the stories of the people behind breakthroughs and innovations.