Chen, David Yu-Kai

Complexity-Inspired Organic Synthesis Laboratory
LAB Website
OFFICE 503-624 / +82-2-880-4384
LAB 503-603,632 / +82-2-880-4377

Research Topic

Total synthesis, a research field that renders the preparation of larger molecular constructs from their structurally simplified progenitor(s) through a series of carefully coordinated synthetic operations, has admirably served the scientific community through its contributions in both fundamental chemical research and in a wide-spectrum of physical and biological applications. Our research activity rests its foundation on complexity-inspired total synthesis, with strong emphasis on the design and orchestration of innovative synthetic strategies by employing modern synthetic technologies based on transition-metal and organo-catalysis. Convergent and yet flexible approach are pursued in order to maximize overall synthetic efficiency, and enable the preparation of rationally designed analogues for chemical-biology investigations. Novel reactivities bestowed by complex molecular architectures are explored in a methodological manner and further applied in the context of target-oriented synthesis.


  • Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Cambridge, 2001
  • B.Sc. (1st class Hon) Chemistry, University of Auckland, 1998


  • Principal Investigator, Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore, 2005-2011
  • Senior Research Chemist, Merck Research Laboratory, Rahway, USA, 2003-2005
  • Research Associate, Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, USA, 2002-2003
  • Research Assistant, Auckland Cancer Society Research Center, New Zealand, 1998


  1. Late-Stage and Strain-Acclerated Oxidation Enabled Synthesis of Haouamine A. Park K. H., Rizzo A. and Chen D. Y. -K.* Chem. Sci., 2020, 11, 8132-8137.
  2. A Local-Desymmetrization-Based Divergent Synthesis of Quinine and Quinidine. Lee J. and Chen D. Y. -K.* Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2019, 58, 488-493.
  3. A Desymmetrization-Based Total Synthesis of Reserpine. Park J. and Chen D. Y. -K.* Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 57, 16152-16156.
  4. A Personal Perspective on Organic Synthesis: Past, Present, and Future. Chen D. Y. -K.* Isr. J. Chem. 2018, 58, 85-93.
  5. Asymmetric Total Syntheses of Communesin F and a Putative Member of the Communesin Family. Park J., Jean A. and Chen D. Y. -K.* Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 56, 14237-14240.
  6. Programmed Serial Stereochemical Relay and its Application in the Synthesis of Morphinans. Park K. H., Chen R. and Chen D. Y. -K.* Chem. Sci. 2017, 8, 7031-7037.

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