M. Christina White

 M. White

Contact Information

Department of Chemistry
University of Illinois
A410 CLSL, Box 58-5
600 South Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
William H. and Janet G. Lycan Professor of Chemistry
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Professor M. Christina White received her B.A. with highest honors in Biochemistry from Smith College in 1992 and her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1998. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, she joined the faculty there in 2002. In 2005 she joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests are in the field of organic synthesis with an emphasis on the discovery of transition-metal mediated reactions that address unsolved problems in organic methodology.

Research Interests

  • organic synthesis with an emphasis on the discovery of transition-metal mediated reactions that address unsolved problems in organic methodology

Research Description

Among the frontier challenges in chemistry in the 21st century are (1) increasing control of chemical reactivity and (2) synthesizing complex molecules with higher levels of efficiency. Although it has been well demonstrated that given ample time and resources, highly complex molecules can be synthesized in the laboratory, too often current methods do not allow chemists to match the efficiency achieved in Nature. This is particularly relevant for molecules with non-polypropionate-like oxidation patterns (e.g. Taxol). Traditional organic methods for installing oxidized functionality rely heavily on acid-base reactions that require extensive functional group manipulations (FGMs) including wasteful protection-deprotection sequences. Due to their ubiquity in complex molecules and inertness to most organic transformation, C—H bonds have typically been ignored in the context of methods development for total synthesis. My laboratory has initiated a program to develop highly selective oxidation methods, similar to those found in Nature, for the direct installation of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon functionalities into allylic and aliphatic C—H bonds of complex molecules and their intermediates. Unlike Nature which uses elaborate enzyme active sites, we rely on the subtle electronic and steric interactions between C—H bonds and small molecule transition metal complexes to achieve high selectivities. Gaining a fundamental and predictive understanding of these interactions through mechanistic studies is one of the main goals and discovery engines of our research. Using these methods, my group aims to develop novel strategies for streamlining the process of complex molecule synthesis. Collectively, we aim to change the way that complex molecules are constructed by redefining the reactivity principles of C—H bonds in complex molecule settings. Please see the White Group website for more details.

Distinctions / Awards

  • ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry, 2018
  • Mitsui Chemicals Catalysis Science Award, 2018
  • Alumni Scholar, University of Illinois Department of Chemistry, 2017
  • Mukaiyama Award, 2016
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, 2014
  • Royal Society of Chemistry Merck Award, 2013
  • AAAS Fellow, 2012
  • Cope Scholar Award, 2009
  • Roche Excellence in Chemistry Award, 2009
  • Abbott Young Investigator Award, 2008
  • AstraZeneca Excellence in Chemistry Award, 2008
  • Camille Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award, 2008
  • Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals New Investigator Award, 2008
  • Amgen Young Investigator Award, 2008
  • Sanofi Aventis “Visions in Chemistry,” 2008
  • Pfizer Award for Creativity in Organic Chemistry, 2008-2009
  • BMS Unrestricted “Freedom to Discover” Grant, 2008-2009
  • Eli Lilly Grantee Award, 2007-2009
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, 2008-2010
  • Fellow, UIUC Center for Advanced Study, 2006
  • NSF CAREER Award, 2006-2010
  • Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award, 2002-2007
  • National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship,1999-2002
  • American Chemical Society, Division of Medicinal Chemistry Predoctoral Fellowship, 1997-1998
  • Sarah and Adolph Roseman Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry, JHU, 1997
  • Sigma Xi, Smith College, 1992
  • First Group Scholar, Smith College, 1992
  • Ford Foundation Summer Research Grant, Smith College , 1991
  • Dean’s List, Smith College, 1988-1992

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Ammann, S. E, W. Liu, and M. C. White Enantioselective Allylic C—H Oxidation of Terminal Olefins to Isochromans by Palladium(II)/Chiral Sulfoxide Catalysis Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 55 2016, p. 9571.
Osberger, T. J, D. C. Rogness, J. T. Kohrt, A. F. Stepan, and M. C. White Oxidative Diversification of Amino Acids and Peptides by Small-Molecule Iron Catalysts Nature 537 2016, p. 214.
Paradine, S. M, J. R. Griffen, J. P. Zhao, A. L. Petronico, S. M. Miller, and M. C. White A Manganese Catalyst for Highly Reactive Yet Chemoselective Intramolecular C(sp3)—H Aminations Nature Chemistry 7 2015, p. 987.
Howell, J. M, K. Feng, J. R. Clark, L. J. Trzepkowski, and M. C. White Remote Oxidation of Aliphatic C—H Bonds in Nitrogen Containing Molecules J. Am. Chem. Soc. 127 2015, p. 14590.
Gormisky, P. E, and M. C. White Catalyst-Controlled Aliphatic C—H Oxidations with a Predictive Model for Site-Selectivity J. Am. Chem. Soc. 135 2013, p. 14052.
Delcamp, J. H, P. E. Gormisky, and M. C. White Oxidative Heck Vinylation for the Synthesis of Complex Dienes and Polyenes J. Am. Chem. Soc. 135 2013, p. 8460.
Paradine, S. M, and M. C. White Iron-Catalysed Intramolecular Allylic C—H Amination J. Am. Chem. Soc. 134 2012, p. 2036.
Stang, E. M, and M. C. White Molecular Complexity via C—H Activation: A Dehydrogenative Diels-Alder Reaction J. Am. Chem. Soc. 133 2011, p. 14892.
Chen, M. S, and M. C. White Combined Effects on Selectivity in Fe-Catalyzed Methylene Oxidation Science 134 2010, p. 2036.
Stang, E. M, and M. C. White Total Synthesis and Study of 6-deoxyerythronolide B via Late-Stage C—H Oxidation Nature Chemistry 1 2009, p. 547.
Delcamp, J. H, A. P. Brucks, and M. C. White A General and Highly Selective Chelate-Controlled Intermolecular Oxidative Heck Reaction J. Am. Chem. Soc. 130 2008, p. 11270.
Young, A. Y, and M. C. White Catalytic Intermolecular Allylic C—H Alkylation J. Am. Chem. Soc. 130 2008, p. 14090.
Reed, S. A, and M. C. White Catalytic Intermolecular Linear Allylic C—H Amination via Heterobimetallic Catalysis J. Am. Chem. Soc. 130 2008, p. 3316.
Chen, M. S, and M. C. White A Predictably Selective Aliphatic C—H Oxidation Reaction for Complex Molecule Synthesis Science 318 2007, p. 783-787.
Fraunhoffer, K. J, and M. C. White syn-1,2-Amino Alcohols via Diastereoselective Allylic C—H Amination J. Am. Chem. Soc. 129 2007, p. 7274-7276.
Delcamp, J. H, and M. C. White Sequential Hydrocarbon Functionalization: Allylic C—H Oxidation/Vinylic C—H Arylation J. Am. Chem. Soc. 128 2006, p. 15076-1507.
Fraunhoffer, K. J, D. A. Bachovchin, and M. C. White Hydrocarbon Oxidation vs. C-C Bond Forming Approaches for Efficient Syntheses of Oxygenated Molecules Org. Lett. 7 2005, p. 223-226.
Chen, M. S, and M. C. White A Sulfoxide-Promoted, Catalytic Method for the Regioselective Synthesis of Allylic Acetates from Monosubstituted Olefins via C-H Oxidation J. Am. Chem. Soc. 126 2004, p. 1346-1347.