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William J. Greenlee, Ph.D.

Dr. William J. Greenlee was born in 1950 in Columbus, Ohio. He began his career in chemistry as a high school student while working at his father’s company, “Chemical Samples Company,” synthesizing and purifying acetylenes and other hydrocarbons. While an undergraduate at The Ohio State University, Greenlee carried out research with Prof. Paul Gassman on strained ring hydrocarbons. After receiving his B.S. degree in chemistry at OSU in 1972, Greenlee was awarded an NSF Predoctoral Fellowship and carried out graduate studies with Prof. Robert B. Woodward at Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. degree from Harvard in 1976, after completing the first total synthesis of (+/-)-Marasmic acid. He was an NIH Posdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University with Prof. Gilbert Stork, and was a member of the team that completed the first total synthesis of Cytochalasin B.

Dr. Greenlee joined Merck Research Laboratories in 1977 as a member of the New Lead Discovery department where he became part of the Merck team under Dr. Arthur Patchett that discovered potent inhibitors of angiotensin-converting enzyme, including enalapril (Vasotec™) and lisinopril (Prinivil™). Greenlee and his group also worked on angiotensin II receptor antagonists, an effort that evolved into a collaboration with scientists at the Dupont Merck Pharmaceutical Company. Greenlee’s team identified several potent angiotensin AT1 antagonists including MK-996, and developed the first potent dual AT1/AT2 antagonists. His group also discovered potent angiotensin AT1 agonists, the first nonpeptide agonists of a peptide receptor outside the opioid field. He and his associates also developed potent renin inhibitors and endothelin receptor antagonists. He was promoted to Director in 1989 and to Senior Director in 1992.

In 1995, Greenlee joined the Schering Plough Research Institute (SPRI) as Senior Director, Cardiovascular and CNS Chemical Research, and was promoted in 2002 to Vice President, CNS and Cardiovascular Chemistry and High-Throughput Synthesis. At Schering-Plough, he directed a group of 80 chemists in the design and synthesis of potential drug candidates for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, diabetes, thrombosis and chronic pain. His group discovered ten development candidates that have entered clinical trials. Following the acquisition of Schering-Plough by Merck in 2009, Greenlee served as Chemistry Site Head in Kenilworth, and then returned to Rahway as Senior Director of Medicinal Chemistry in 2010. Since November, 2011, he has been working as an independent consultant in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery.

Greenlee chaired the Medicinal Chemistry Gordon Conference in 1997 and served as Chair and Program Chair for both the Medicinal Chemistry (2003) and Organic Chemistry (2004) Divisions of the American Chemical Society. He is currently serving his second term as Councilor for the MEDI Division. He served as Section Editor (Cardiovascular and Pulmonary), for Annual Reports in Medicinal Chemistry (1999–2004), and is currently Perspectives Editor for the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. He and is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, and is Co-Organizer of the annual Drew University Residential School on Medicinal Chemistry. Greenlee received the Alfred Burger Award in Medicinal Chemistry from the American Chemical Society in 2004. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007 and an ACS Fellow in 2009. He is author of more than 180 research publications and inventor of over 60 U.S. patents.

ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry

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