Donna Blackmond, PhD
Donna Blackmond, PhD

Scripps Research professor Donna Blackmond, PhD, who has expanded the world’s understanding of the chemistry of life, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of her “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.” 

Blackmond also serves as chair of the Chemistry Department on the California campus. She’s recognized for pioneering a technique called “reaction progress kinetic analysis,” a method for streamlining chemical reactions that is becoming an industry standard for pharmaceutical research and development. In addition, her groundbreaking work on the molecular geometry that exists in the building blocks of the natural world—a property known as chirality—has implications ranging from designing effective therapeutics to the very origins of life on Earth. 

“Donna has made extraordinary contributions to chemistry and science at large,” says Scripps Research President and CEO Peter Schultz, PhD. “This well-deserved recognition places her among an elite group of scientists and the institute is proud to have Donna on our faculty.” 

Blackmond earned her doctorate in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1984 and began her career as a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She was recruited to the pharmaceutical company Merck in the early 1990s to lead a new reaction engineering effort in the development of anti-HIV treatments known as protease inhibitors. From there, she moved on to academic positions in Germany and the U.K. prior to coming to Scripps Research in 2010. 

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by the National Academy of Sciences, especially given that my formal education is in engineering,” says Blackmond. “The time I spent at Merck was the defining experience for my future research in organic chemistry. Now, working with my organic chemistry colleagues at Scripps Research is like being a kid in a candy store.”