Chemistry at Illinois University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

David Sarlah

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Professor Sarlah received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Ljubljana in 2006 and his Ph.D. from the Scripps Research Institute in 2011. Following a postdoctoral stay at ETH Zürich, he joined the faculty at Illinois in 2014. His research interests span from the synthesis of complex, biologically active natural products and the related chemical biology to methodology development.


Central to our research program is the advancement of the science of synthesis. We are involved in natural products chemistry and synthesis, reaction innovation and design including asymmetric catalysis. We aim to provide new solutions to the problems encountered at the frontline of organic synthesis that benefit chemistry and enable advances in the allied fields of chemical biology, material science, and medicine.


Stereodivergent α–Allylation of Linear Aldehydes with Dual Iridium and Amine Catalysis
S. Krautwald, M. A. Schafroth, D. Sarlah, E. M. Carreira
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 3020–3023.

Iridium-Catalyzed Enantioselective Allyl–Alkene Coupling
J. Y. Hamilton, D. Sarlah, E. M. Carreira
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 3006–3009.

Enantio- and Diastereodivergent Dual Catalysis: α–Allylation of Branched Aldehydes
S. Krautwald, D. Sarlah, M. A. Schafroth, E. M. Carreira
Science 2013, 340, 1065–1068.

Amphotericin B Increases Influenza A Virus Infection by Preventing IFITM3-Mediated Restriction
A. R. Everitt, S. Clare, J. M. Perreira, G. Savidis, A. M. Aker, S. P. John, D. Sarlah, E. M. Carreira, S. J. Elledge, P. Kellam, A. L. Brass
Cell Reports 2013, 5, 895–908.

Iridium-Catalyzed Enantioselective Allylic Alkynylation
J. Y. Hamilton, D. Sarlah, E. M. Carreira
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 52, 7532–7535.

Iridium-Catalyzed Enantioselective Allylic Vinylation

J. Y. Hamilton, D. Sarlah, E. M. Carreira
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 994–997.

Iridium-Catalyzed Enantioselective Polyene Cyclization

M. A. Schafroth, D. Sarlah, S. Krautwald, E. M. Carreira
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 20276–20278.

Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Epidithio-, Epitetrathio-, and bis-(Methylthio)diketopiperazines: Synthetic Methodology, Enantioselective Total Synthesis of Epicoccin G, 8,8'-epi-ent-Rostratin B, Gliotoxin, Gliotoxin G, Emethallicin E, and Haematocin and Discovery of New Antiviral and Antimalarial Agents
K. C. Nicolaou, M. Lu, S. Totokotsopoulos, P. Heretsch, D. Giguère, Y. Sun, D. Sarlah, T. H. Nguyen, I. C. Wolf, D. F. Smee, C. W. Day, S. Bopp, E. A. Winzeler
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 17320–17332.

Bioinspired Synthesis of Hirsutellones A, B and C
K. C. Nicolaou, Y. Sun, D. Sarlah, W. Zhan, T. R. Wu
Org. Lett. 2011, 13, 5708–5710.

Total Synthesis of Epicoccin G
K. C. Nicolaou, S. Totokotsopoulos, D. Giguere, Y. Sun, D. Sarlah
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011, 133, 8150–8153.

Design, Synthesis, and Biological Evaluation of a Biyouyanagin Compound Library

K. C. Nicolaou, S. Sanchini, D. Sarlah, G. Lu, T. R. Wu, D. K. Nomura, B. F. Cravatt, B. Cubitte, J. C. de la Torre, A. J. Hessell, D. R. Burton
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 2011, 108, 6715–6720.

Asymmetric Total Synthesis of Cylindrocyclophanes A and F Through Cyclodimerization and Ramberg–Bäcklund Reaction
K. C. Nicolaou, Y. Sun, H. Korman, D. Sarlah
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2010, 49, 5875–5878.

Total Synthesis and Structural Revision of Biyouyanagin B
K. C. Nicolaou, S. Sanchini, T. R. Wu, D. Sarlah
Eur. J. Chem. 2010, 16, 7678–7682.

Total Synthesis of Hirsutellone B
K. C. Nicolaou, D. Sarlah, T. R. Wu, W. Q. Zhan
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2009, 48, 6870–6874.

Enantioselective Intramolecular Friedel–Crafts-Type α–Arylation of Aldehydes
K. C. Nicolaou, R. Reingruber, D. Sarlah, S. Brase
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 2086–2087.

Total Synthesis, Revised Structure, and Biological Evaluation of Biyouyanagin A and Analogues Thereof
K. C. Nicolaou, T. R. Wu, D. Sarlah, D. M. Shaw, E. Rowcliffe, D. R. Burton
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2008, 130, 11114–11121.

Total Synthesis and Revised Structure of Biyouyanagin A
K. C. Nicolaou, D. Sarlah, D. M. Shaw
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2007, 46, 4708–4711.

Highly Selective Diels–Alder Reactions of Directly Connected Enyne Dienophiles M. Dai, D. Sarlah, M. Yu, S. J. Danishefsky, G. O. Jones, K. N. Houk
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2007, 129, 645–657.

Total Synthesis and Structural Elucidation of Azaspiracid-1. Construction of Key Building Blocks for Originally Proposed Structure
K. C. Nicolaou, P. M. Pihko, F. Bernal, M. O. Frederick, W. Y. Qian, N. Uesaka, N. Diedrichs, J. Hinrichs, T. V. Koftis, E. Loizidou, G. Petrovic, M. Rodriquez, D. Sarlah, N. Zou
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2006, 128, 2244–2257.

Metathesis Reactions in Total Synthesis

K. C. Nicolaou, P. G. Bulger, D. Sarlah
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2005, 44, 4490–4527.

Palladium-Catalyzed Cross-Coupling Reactions in Total Synthesis
K. C. Nicolaou, P. G. Bulger, D. Sarlah
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2005, 44, 4442–4489.

Combination of Antimicrobial and Endotoxin-Neutralizing Activities of Novel Oleoylamines
M. Zorko, A. Majerle , D. Sarlah, M. M. Keber, B. Mohar, R. Jerala
Antimicrob. Agents Chemoter. 2005, 49, 2307–2313.


  • Hoffmann-La Roche Award for Excellence in Organic Chemistry, 2011

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb Graduate Fellowship, 2010



David Sarlah