Dr Liviu Mirica obtained his BS from Caltech in 1999, where he carried out undergraduate research with Harry Gray. He earned his PhD from Stanford in 2005, working for Dan Stack on oxygen activation by small molecule mimics of copper enzymes. After an NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship with Judith Klinman on mechanistic studies of non-heme enzymes at Berkeley, he joined the Department of Chemistry at Washington University in 2008. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2013, and full Professor in 2016. He has received numerous awards and fellowships in recognition of his work, such as the Alfred P Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship in 2012, the NSF Career Award in 2013, and most recently, the Saltman Lectureship “Metals in Biology” Gordon Research Conference and an Organometallics Young Investigator Fellowship in 2014. He has also been recognized for outstanding teaching with a Sony Electronics Scholarship Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2011 and an Undergraduate and a Research Mentor of the Year Award from Washington University in 2012.
Dr Mirica has broad research interests that span organometallic chemistry and bioinorganic chemistry. He has made important contributions to the development of new catalysts of relevance to renewable energy by developing ligands that can stabilize transition metals such as palladium and nickel in unusual oxidation states. He was the first to isolate a mononuclear complex of Pd+3. He has also shown that these higher valent metal complexes can lead to carbon-carbon and carbon-heteroatom bond formation, with direct implications for the development of catalysts for the activation of methane and reduction of carbon dioxide. The work is described in a series of impactful publications in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Organometallics, and Chemical Communications. In the area of bioinorganic chemistry, Dr Mirica has been studying the role of metal ions in the oligomerization of Aβ peptides implicated in Alzheimer’s disease and the development of therapeutics and positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agents for this degenerative disease. His work in this area has been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society as well as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. His work has also attracted major funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense.
Dr Mirica was born and grew up in Romania, before coming to the US to attend college. His wife, Liudmila, is a financial manager at Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine. They are the proud parents of a four-year-old son, Max, who keeps them deeply involved in the world of LEGOs.
The Saint Louis Award, sponsored by the Monsanto Company and administered by the Saint Louis Section–ACS, is presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the profession of chemistry and demonstrated potential to further the advancement of the chemical profession. The award, consisting of a $1,500 honorarium and a plaque, is presented at the Saint Louis Award Banquet that will be held Saturday Oct. 15, 2016 (reservations required). The program for the St Louis Award Symposium, prior to the banquet, are set.