Xue-Min Cheng

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Xue-Min Cheng, Ph.D.
Alma materPeking University, University of Pittsburgh, Harvard University
Scientific career
Thesis (1987)
Doctoral advisorAlan P. Kozikowski

Xue-Min Cheng is a medicinal chemist, author, and pharmaceutical executive best known for being the co-author of The Logic of Chemical Synthesis,[1] which formalized retrosynthesis, the concept for which Elias J. Corey won the 1990 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Education and Postdoctoral research[edit]

Cheng earned her BS in chemistry from Peking University, and a doctoral degree in synthetic chemistry from Alan Kozikowski at the University of Pittsburgh. Her work studied applications of nitrile oxides, for example cycloadditions to form C-glycosides,[2] or utilization of nitrile oxides as precursors to functionalized heterocycles.[3] While a postdoctoral scholar at Harvard, Cheng co-authored The Logic of Chemical Synthesis with Corey, the first three chapters of which explore computational and logic-based approaches[4] to disassemble organic molecule "targets" (TGTs) through various transforms, leading to "retrons" and "synthons", e.g. simpler molecules that could be used to access the TGT. Noteworthy here is the Preface, which indicates that all structures found in the book were drawn "by computer", that is, with the then-new ChemDraw software package adapted by Stewart Rubenstein, David A. Evans, and Sally Evans.[5]

Research career[edit]

After Harvard, Cheng took a position at Warner-Lambert Research, later Pfizer, in Michigan. Work there included ketopiperazine-based renin inhibitors,[6] HMG-CoA inhibitors,[7] and molecules against multiple other cardiovascular targets. In 2006, Cheng moved to the University of Michigan as a research associate professor, while simultaneously joining a contract research firm on the former Pfizer Michigan campus called AAPharmaSyn.[8] Cheng rose to become the eventual President of the firm, before departing in 2011.[9]

Since 2011, Cheng and colleagues at Michigan have focused their efforts on DARPA-backed dendrimeric drug delivery systems for battlefield use.[10][11]


  1. ^ Corey, EJ, Cheng, X-M (1989). The Logic of Chemical Synthesis. New York, NY: Wiley Interscience. ISBN 978-0-471-11594-6.
  2. ^ Kozikowski, Alan P.; Cheng, Xue-Min (1987). "An efficacious synthesis of aryl and heteroaryl C-glycosides". Journal of the Chemical Society, Chemical Communications. 0 (9): 680. doi:10.1039/C39870000680. ISSN 0022-4936.
  3. ^ Kozikowski, Alan P.; Cheng, Xue-Min; Li, Chun-Sing; Scripko, James G. (1986). "A New Indole Synthesis Promoted by Metal Triflates". Israel Journal of Chemistry. 27 (1): 61–65. doi:10.1002/ijch.198600011. ISSN 0021-2148.
  4. ^ WASHINGTON, A. MAUREEN ROUHI, C&EN. "ABOVE AND BEYOND ORGANIC SYNTHESIS | March 29, 2004 Issue - Vol. 82 Issue 13 | Chemical & Engineering News". cen.acs.org. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  5. ^ Evans, David A. (2014-08-11). "History of the Harvard ChemDraw Project". Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 53 (42): 11140–11145. doi:10.1002/anie.201405820. ISSN 1433-7851. PMID 25131311.
  6. ^ Holsworth, Daniel D.; Cai, Cuiman; Cheng, Xue-Min; Cody, Wayne L.; Downing, Dennis M.; Erasga, Noe; Lee, Chitase; Powell, Noel A.; Edmunds, Jeremy J.; Stier, Michael; Jalaie, Mehran; Zhang, Erli; McConnell, Pat; Ryan, Michael J.; Bryant, John; Li, Tingsheng; Kasani, Aparna; Hall, Eric; Subedi, Rajendra; Rahim, Mohammad; Maiti, Samarendra (2006-05-01). "Ketopiperazine-based renin inhibitors: Optimization of the "C" ring". Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 16 (9): 2500–2504. doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2006.01.084. ISSN 0960-894X. PMID 16480874.
  7. ^ Pfefferkorn, Jeffrey A.; Song, Yuntao; Sun, Kuai-Lin; Miller, Steven R.; Trivedi, Bharat K.; Choi, Chulho; Sorenson, Roderick J.; Bratton, Larry D.; Unangst, Paul C.; Larsen, Scott D.; Poel, Toni-Jo; Cheng, Xue-Min; Lee, Chitase; Erasga, Noe; Auerbach, Bruce; Askew, Valerie; Dillon, Lisa; Hanselman, Jeffrey C.; Lin, Zhiwu; Lu, Gina; Robertson, Andrew; Olsen, Karl; Mertz, Thomas; Sekerke, Catherine; Pavlovsky, Alexander; Harris, Melissa S.; Bainbridge, Graeme; Caspers, Nicole; Chen, Huifen; Eberstadt, Matthias (2007-08-15). "Design and synthesis of hepatoselective, pyrrole-based HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors". Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 17 (16): 4538–4544. doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2007.05.096. ISSN 0960-894X. PMID 17574412.
  8. ^ contact@aapharmasyn.com. "Home Page | AAPharmaSyn | contact@aapharmasyn.com". www.aapharmasyn.com. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  9. ^ "Bloomberg - Are you a robot?". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  10. ^ Mullen, Douglas G.; McNerny, Daniel Q.; Desai, Ankur; Cheng, Xue-min; DiMaggio, Stassi C.; Kotlyar, Alina; Zhong, Yueyang; Qin, Suyang; Kelly, Christopher V. (2011-04-20). "Design, Synthesis, and Biological Functionality of a Dendrimer-Based Modular Drug Delivery Platform". Bioconjugate Chemistry. 22 (4): 679–689. doi:10.1021/bc100360v. ISSN 1043-1802. PMC 3089944. PMID 21425790.
  11. ^ "Nanoparticle-based battlefield pain treatment moves step closer | Michigan Medicine". www.uofmhealth.org. Retrieved 2018-11-20.