Biographical Sketch

Professor Robert E. Maleczka, Jr. was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.  In 1984 he earned a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Illinois, where he carried out research with Professor Kenneth L. Rinehart.  Upon graduation, he accepted a position with the discovery group at Abbott Labs, working on the development of novel arylfluoroquinolone antibacterial agents.  In 1987, he left Abbott and enrolled in graduate school at The Ohio State University where he studied under Professor Leo Paquette. In late 1992, he moved to the University of Pennsylvania as an American Cancer Society post-doctoral fellow in the laboratories of Professor Amos B. Smith, III.  In the fall of 1995, he began his independent career at Michigan State University, where he currently holds the rank of Professor.

Honors bestowed on Professor Maleczka include winning the Astellas and Yamanouchi USA Foundation Faculty Award, holding the Novartis Lecturer title at Yale University, and the Sigma Xi (MSU Chapter) Junior Meritorious Faculty Research Award.  Chemical and Engineering News named his collaborative studies with Professor Milton Smith (MSU) to be among the Chemistry Highlights of the Year in 2002.  Professor Maleczka’s teaching has been recognized with an MSU College of Natural Science Teacher-Scholar Award and by being named the 1998 Mentor of the Year by the MSU Chapter of Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE).  Among his service and outreach activities, Professor Maleczka has served as a Diversity Scholar at the center for the Integration of Teaching and Learning (Madison, WI) and has been an advisory board member for the MSU Chapter of NOBCChE. He is currently the treasurer of the MSU local section of the American Chemical Society. In 2006, Professor Maleczka co-founded BoroPharm, Inc. a company dedicated to the preparation and commercialization of novel aryl and heteroaryl building blocks for organic/pharmaceutical synthesis.  In late 2010, Professor Maleczka became the Chair of the Department of Chemistry.

In partnership with Prof. Milton Smith (MSU Department of Chemistry), Prof. Maleczka was awarded the 2008 Academic Award of the US EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge for "Green Chemistry for Preparing Boronic Esters" (Award Summary). 

Research Interests

The Maleczka group’s research interests include Green Chemistry, the invention of organoborane, organostannane, and organosilane reactions for organic synthesis; developing new cross-coupling methods; combining catalytic arene C-H activation/borylation with other chemical events; Wittig rearrangements and related chemistry, and the total synthesis of biologically active natural products.

Central to his research is the development of efficient and environmentally benign reactions and strategies.  The Pharmaceutical Roundtable of the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute deemed cross-couplings that avoid haloaromatics as their top aspirational reaction.  In collaboration with Professor Mitch Smith, they are inventing such reactions.  Specifically, Maleczka is using catalytic C–H activation/borylation, often combined with subsequent chemical events, to generate pharmaceutically relevant building blocks for organic synthesis.  He was honored when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized this chemistry with its 2008 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.

Among the synthetic methods currently being investigated, they are particularly interested in the metal catalyzed chemistry of organostannanes, -silanes, and –boranes. A central aim of these studies is the use of such compounds in efficient and environmentally benign reactions and strategies. Currently, Maleczka is interested in minimizing the need for tin in various processes. Likewise, he is collaborating with Professor Milton “Mitch” Smith on the exploration of catalytic C–H activation/borylation of arenes as a means to avoid halogens during cross-coupling reactions. Wherever possible he also seeks to “telescope” these plus other reactions into one-pot processes.

As they develop new synthetic schemes, the reactions are optimized and their mechanisms explored. For example, they are now in the midst of a study on the mechanism and kinetics of the Stille reaction. In another ongoing project, they are learning about stereochemical implications on the [1,4]-Wittig rearrangement.

Once these new reaction sequences become enabling technology for total synthesis, they apply them in the theater of natural product synthesis and towards the construction of other pharmaceutically relevant targets. Currently, Maleczka is looking to apply catalytic borylation chemistry to the total synthesis of autolytimycin. In another synthetic venture, he plans to make monocillin I with reactions that only employ catalytic amounts of tin. Similarly, their route to the potential anti-cancer natural product superstolide A involves the strategic in situ recycling of organotin reagents.

Contact Information

Michigan State University

Department of Chemistry

East Lansing, MI 48824



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