Dr. Gregory Hughes

Dr. Gregory Hughes
Senior Principal Scientist

Discovery Process Chemistry Department



The development of a scalable approach to Islatravir

The development of increasingly capable tools for protein engineering has led to a number of novel enzymatic catalysts for industrial applications. These new tools have been applied in a number of chemical manufacturing sectors, with the pharmaceutical industry finding these tools to be particularly impactful. Early applications of biocatalysis involved the replacement of stoichiometric reagents with enzymatic alternatives. As chemists became more confident in the reliability of protein engineering, they were inspired to imagine more efficient routes that elimated multiple unit operations, along with the waste and costs associated with those operations. More recently, enzymatic cascades have been developed which allow multiple chemical steps to be performed in a single vessel, often without protecting groups. This approach has led to an even more dramatic reduction in time cycles, energy, solvents and waste. In this talk, the development of a biocatalytic cascade inspired by a natural nucleoside salvage pathway will be presented. This approach was developed for the production of Islatravir, a clinical candidate for the treatment of HIV.

Gregory Hughes

Dr. Hughes completed his undergraduate studies the University of New Brunswick in 1994 and then a PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Toronto. After completing his graduate studies in 2000, Dr. Hughes accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute. In 2002, he started at Merck Frost joining a newly formed satellite Process Chemistry group. In 2008, Dr. Hughes relocated to Merck’s Rahway site managing a number of enabling technology groups including the catalysis, automation, flow chemistry and biocatalysis groups. In 2013, Dr. Hughes assumed a position as VP of Business Development and Alliance Management at Codexis. In 2016, Dr. Hughes returned to R&D at Merck, a Principal Scientist in the Process Chemistry organization. In Jan 2022, Dr. Hughes moved into a Senior Principal Scientist position within the Discovery Process Chemistry department.


Start date
Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, 9:45 a.m.
End date
Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, 11 a.m.

331 Smith Hall

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