Spokoyny, Alexander

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Assistant Professor
Systems Biology and Biological Regulation

Contact Information

Molecular Sciences 1505
Molecular Sciences 1230

Short Biography

Dr. Alexander Spokoyny was born and spent his childhood and teenage years in Moscow, Russia. After his family immigrated to United States in 2001, Alex attended UCLA, where he was introduced to the area of boron cluster chemistry working as an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of Prof. M. Frederick Hawthorne. He continued his graduate chemistry education at Northwestern University under the guidance of Prof. Chad A. Mirkin. At Northwestern, Alex developed new materials, devices, and fundamentally new classes of ligand platforms based on organomimetic carborane clusters. Upon receiving his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry in 2011, Alex decided to move further east, where he was an NIH Post-Doctoral Fellow working in the laboratories of Profs. Stephen L. Buchwald and Bradley L. Pentelute at MIT. There his research interests involved the development of new bioconjugation strategies for peptides and proteins and regulation of protein-protein interactions.

Research Interest

Our research program encompasses an interdisciplinary approach focusing on pressing problems in chemistry, biology, medicine and materials science. To tackle these challenges, we are exploring fundamentally new synthetic avenues, structural understanding, and applications for inorganic and organomimetic clusters. We focus on the development of an extensive and versatile synthetic toolbox, allowing for the functionalization of various 3D cluster motifs (polyhedral boranes and carboranes), polyoxometallates (POMs), and small aluminum and noble metal clusters. Specifically, we are currently working on new ligand platforms with unique electronic and steric features, stable inorganic radicals, and multifunctional, atomically precise nanosized molecules. These research efforts will reveal novel and potentially useful solutions to important problems in science and technology, including: catalysis, energy storage and protein recognition and labeling.

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Honors & Awards

  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship (2017)
  • Glenn T. Seaborg Award, UCLA (2017)
  • Krug Lectureship, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign (2017)
  • Chemical and Engineering News (C&EN), Talented 12 (2016)
  • ACS Petroleum Research Fund, Doctoral New Investigator Grant (2016)
  • 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award (2016)
  • Inorganic Chemistry Frontiers, Emerging Investigator (2015)
  • NIH Ruth Kirschstein NRSA Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2012 – 2014)
  • Best Poster Prize, 23rd American Peptide Symposium, Hawaii, USA (2013).
  • IUPAC Prize for Young Chemists (2012)
  • Award for Excellence in Graduate Research, Northwestern Univ., Chemistry Department (2011)
  • Finalist, Young Boron Chemist Award, XIV International Conference on Boron Chemistry (2011)
  • Selected for Poster Talk at Organometallic Chemistry Gordon Research Conference (2011)
  • Young Investigator Award, American Chemical Society, Division of Inorganic Chemistry (2011)
  • JSPS Global Center of Excellence Visiting Fellowship, University of Tokyo (2011)
  • E. W. Gelewitz Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies, Northwestern University (2010)
  • Presidential Fellowship, Northwestern University (2010 – 2011)
  • Society of Fellows, Northwestern University (2010 – present)
  • GAANN Fellowship, U. S. Department of Education, Northwestern University (2006 – 2007)


[ Selected Publications ]

  • 1. Qian, E. A.; Wixtrom, A. I.; Axtell, J. C.; Saebi, A.; Rehak, P.; Han, Y.; Moully, E. H.; Mosallaei, D.; Chow, S.; Messina, M.; Wang, J.-Y.; Royappa, A. T.; Rheingold, A. L.; Maynard, H. D.; Kral, P.; Spokoyny, A. M. “Atomically Precise Organomimetic Cluster Nanomolecules Assembled via Perfluoroaryl-Thiol SNAr Chemistry.” Nature Chem. 2017, 9, 333-340.
  • 2. Axtell, J. C.; Kirlikovali, K. O.; Djurovich, P. I.; Jung, D.; Nguyen, V. T.; Munekiyo, B.; Royappa, A. T.; Rheingold, A. L.; Spokoyny, A. M. "Blue Phosphorescent Zwitterionic Iridium(III) Complexes Featuring Weakly Coordinating Carborane-based Ligands." J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 15758-15765.
  • 3. Dziedzic, R.; Saleh, L.; Axtell, J.; Martin, J.; Stevens, S.; Royappa, A.; Rheingold, A.; Spokoyny,* A. M. "B-N, B-O and B-CN Bond Formation via Palladium Catalyzed Cross-Coupling of B-Bromo-Carboranes." J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 9081-9084.
  • 4. Messina, M. S.; Axtell, J. C.; Wang, Y.; Chong, P.; Wixtrom, A. I.; Kirlikovali, K. O.; Upton, B. M.; Hunter, B. M.; Shafaat, O. S.; Khan, S. I.; Winkler, J. R.; Gray, H. B.; Alexandrova, A. N.; Maynard, H. D.; Spokoyny, A. M. “Visible-Light Induced Olefin Activation using 3D Aromatic Boron-Rich Cluster Photooxidants” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 6952-6955.
  • 5. Kirlikovali, K. O.; Axtell, J. A.; Gonzalez, A.; Phung, A. C.; Khan, S. I.; Spokoyny, A. M. "Luminescent Metal Complexes Featuring Photophysically Innocent Strong-Field Chelating Boron Cluster Ligands" Chem. Sci. 2016, 7, 5132-5138.
  • 6. Vinogradova, E. V.; Zhang, C.; Spokoyny, A. M.; Pentelute, B. L.; Buchwald, S. L. “Organometallic Palladium Reagents for Cysteine Bioconjugation” Nature 2015, 526, 687-691.
  • 7. Spokoyny, A. M.; Zou, Y.; Ling, J. J.; Yu, H.; Lin, Y.-S.; Pentelute, B. L. “A Perfluoroaryl-Cysteine SNAr Chemistry Approach to Unprotected Stapled Peptides”, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 5946-5949.
  • 8. Spokoyny, A. M. “New Ligand Platforms Featuring Boron-Rich Clusters as Organomimetic Substituents” Pure & Appl. Chem. 2013, 85, 903-919.
  • 9. Spokoyny, A. M.; Lewis, C. D.; Teverovskiy, G.; Buchwald, S. L. “Extremely Electron-Rich, Icosahedral Carborane-Based Phosphinoboranes”, Organometallics 2012, 31, 8478-8481.
  • 10. Spokoyny, A. M.; Machan, C. W.; Clingerman, D. C.; Rosen, M. S.; Wiester, M. J.; Kennedy, R. D.; Sarjeant, A. A.; Stern, C. L.; Mirkin, C. A. “A Coordination Chemistry Dichotomy for Icosahedral Carborane-Based Ligands” Nature Chem. 2011, 3, 590-596.