Professor Daniel Comins received his B.A. degree in Chemistry in 1972 from the State University of New York at Potsdam and his Ph.D. in 1977 from the University of New Hampshire. During 1977-1979, he was a Postdoctoral Associate under the direction of Professor A.I. Meyers at Colorado State University working on the total synthesis of the antitumor alkaloids N-methylmaysenine and maysine. He joined the faculty of Utah State University in 1979, became an Associate Professor in 1984, and moved to North Carolina State University as a Full Professor in 1989.

Accomplishments at NC State University

In 1994, Professor Comins received the NCSU Alumni Association Outstanding Research Award, and was an NCSU Inventors Award Recipient in the years 1993-96, 2000, and 2002-11. He was a consultant with Johnson and Johnson for eight years, and was or is presently a consultant with Boehringer Ingelheim, SePRO, Scynexis, BioNumerik Pharmaceuticals, the Research Triangle Institute, Vertellus Specialties, and 10 other companies. In 1995 and again in 1999, he was elected to the Advisory Board of the International Society of Heterocyclic Chemists. In 1995, he was selected as a member of the SUNY Alumni Honor Roll, and in 1997 he received the Minerva Award from SUNY-Potsdam. He has been or is a member of the Editorial Advisory Boards of Progress in Heterocyclic Chemistry, Letters in Organic Chemistry, Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry, and Advances in Heterocyclic Chemistry. From 1996-2016, Professor Comins was an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organic Chemistry. In 1998, he became a Japan Society Promotion of Science (JSPS) Research Fellow.

He was a recipient of the 2005 North Carolina ACS Distinguished Lecturer Award and the 2006 NCSU Distinguished Service Award. In 2005 he gave the 7th Charles Rees Lecture at the 17th Lakeland Symposium, Grasmere, UK. He was named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (2010) and a member of the Honorary Editorial Board of Reports in Organic Chemistry (2011). In 2012, he was elected President of the International Society of Heterocyclic Chemistry (2014-2015). He was selected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC, 2015) and a Permanent Member of the Global Advisory Board, World Academy of Chemistry (2015). Recently, the journal Molecules published a special issue in honor of Professor Comins’ distinguished scientific career and his contributions to heterocyclic chemistry, synthetic methodology and the total synthesis of natural products. In 2023, he was selected as a Senior Fellow of the International Society of Heterocyclic Chemistry. In addition to 12 book chapters and review articles, Professor Comins and coworkers have published over 230 papers including 40 U.S. patents in various areas of organic synthesis, heterocycles and medicinal chemistry.

Research Overview

The principal emphasis of Professor Comins’ research program has been the development of new synthetic methodologies and strategies for the asymmetric synthesis of alkaloids, natural products and biologically active compounds. He is particularly interested in the design of new synthetic reactions, especially practical, high-yield methods for the synthesis of complex organic molecules with specific stereochemistry. Several strategies based on heterocyclic and organometallic chemistry have been developed.

The Comins group has developed methodology useful for the synthesis of compounds having a broad range of biological properties, i.e. neuroleptic, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and anticonvulsant activities. Other studies include basic research on the development of synthetic methods for the synthesis of optically active compounds using novel heterocycles as chiral building blocks.

Please see the “Research” pages for more information.