Ryan Alan Altman

Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Specialization: Synthetic Organic and Medicinal Chemistry


NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Irvine, 2011
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2008
B.S. Chem., Creighton University, Summa Cum Laude, 2003


We are synthetic organic chemists with three predominant interests: (1) Developing innovative synthetic organic reactions for accessing therapeutically relevant drug-like compounds; (2) Exploring physicochemical and biophysical perturbations imparted by fluorinated functional groups and applying these groups towards drug design, and (3) Providing medicinal chemistry support for pharmacological collaborators. In the final area, we actively collaborate with pharmacological and biochemistry experts to develop agents for treating pain, mood and anxiety disorders, aging, and inflammation.

Lab Members

Pankaj Bhattarai (Graduate Student)
Tiffany S. Dwyer (Graduate Student)
Andrew John Intelli (Graduate Student)
Ahmad Junaid (Post-Doctoral Research Associate)
Suvajit Koley (Post-Doctoral Research Associate)
Jacob Peter Sorrentino (Visiting Scholar)

Service and Engagement

Grant Review Panels

NIH, SBCA, Ad Hoc, 2019

NIH, 05 ZRG1 MDCN-R (86) A – Neuroscience AREA Grant Applications, Ad Hoc (5 Panels), 2014 – 2018

Department of Defense CDMRP ID-2 Peer Review Panel – Infectious Disease, 2016

Department of Defense CDMRP PRE-AMR Peer Review Panel – Antimicrobial Resistance, 2016


Journal Editorial Work

ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, Member, Early Career Board Member, 2019 – Present

Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry, Executive Guest Editor, 2014 – 2015


In-House Training/Workshops

 Chemistry of Fluorine: A Survey for the Synthetic Medicinal Chemist”, 1-Day Workshop, Taught at 3 Sites Worldwide, 2018

Honors and Credentials

Scientific Honors

ChemComm Emerging Investigator, 2017

Thieme Chemistry Journal Award, 2015

NSF CAREER Award, 2015

NIDA Early Career Award in Chemistry of Drug Abuse and Addiction, 2015

Herman Frasch Foundation for Chemical Research, 2012


Teaching Honors

Rho Chi Excellence in Teaching Award, 2018, for a faculty member that substantially influenced student education



NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein NSRA Postdoctoral Fellow, 2008 – 2011  

NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein NSRA Predoctoral Fellow, 2007 – 2008

Pfizer DOC Predoctoral Fellow, 2006 – 2007

MIT Institute Fellow, 2003 – 2004

Other Recognition

Safety Champion, 2009, from Chancellor of UCI to an individual, who has the power to influence health and safety practices, and who uses that influence to help create a culture of safety



National Institute of General Medical Sciences (R35 GM124661)

National Science Foundation (CHE-1455163)



National Institute on Drug Abuse (R33 DA036730)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (R21 DA036730)

NIGMS COBRE Protein Structure and Function (P30 GM110761)

Herman Frasch Foundation for Chemical Research (701-HF12)

American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund (52073-DNI1)

Representative Publications

Synthetic Methodology

de Azambuja, F.; Yang, M.-H.; Feoktistova, T.; Selvaraju, M.; Brueckner, A. C.; Grove, M. A.; Koley, S.; Cheong, P. H.-Y.;* Altman, R. A.* “Connecting Remote C–H Bond Functionalization and Decarboxylative Coupling Using Simple Amines” Nature Chem. 2020, 12, 489–496.

Sorrentino, J. S.; Ambler, B. R.; Altman, R. A.* “Late-Stage Conversion of a Metabolically Labile Aryl Methyl Ether-Containing Natural Product to Fluoroalkyl Analogues” J. Org. Chem. 2020, 85, 5416–5427.

de Azambuja, F.; Lovrien, S. K.; Ross, P.; Ambler, B. R.; Altman, R. A.* “Catalytic One-Step Deoxytrifluoromethylation of Alcohols” J. Org. Chem. 2019, 84, 2061–2071.

Orsi, D. L.; Altman, R. A.* “Exploiting the Unusual Effects of Fluorine in Methodology” Chem. Commun. 2017, 53, 7168–7181Invited “Feature Article” for “Emerging Investigators” Issue

Opioids and Pain

Cassell, R. J.; Sharma K. S.; Su, H.; Cummins, B. R.; Cui, H.; Mores, K. L.; Blaine, A. T.; Altman, R. A.;* van Rijn, R. M.* “The Meta-Position of Phe4 in Leu-enkephalin Regulates Potency, Selectivity, Functional Activity, and Signaling Bias at the Delta and Mu Opioid Receptors” Molecules 201924, 4542.

Altman, R. A.;* Sharma, K. K.; Rajewski, L. G.; Toren, P. C.; Baltezor, M. J.; Pal, M.; Karad, S. N. “Tyr1-Ψ-(Z)CF=CH]-Gly2 Fluorinated Peptidomimetic Improves Distribution and Metabolism Properties of Leu-Enkephalin” ACS Chem. Neurosci. 2018, 9, 1735–1742.

Kynurenine Pathway

Shin, I.; Ambler, B. R.; Wherritt, D.; Griffith, W.; Maldonado, A.; Altman, R. A.; Liu, A.* “Stepwise O-Atom Transfer in Heme-based Tryptophan Dioxygenase: The Role of Substrate Ammonium in the Epoxide Ring Opening” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 4372–4379.

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