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Marty Burke completed a PhD in Chemistry at Harvard and a M.D. in the Health Sciences and Technology Program at Harvard Medical School and MIT. He is now the May and Ving Lee Professor for Chemical Innovation at UIUC, and helped launch the Carle Illinois College of Medicine by serving as the inaugural Associate Dean for Research. Burke is a pioneer in the development of molecular prosthetics, automated small molecule synthesis, and renal-sparing polyene antifungals. His lab first showed that small molecules can replace deficient proteins and thereby restore physiology in animals, and in people, thus operating like prostheses on the molecular scale. He identified a molecular prosthetic for cystic fibrosis that achieved proof-of-concept in an investigator-initiated clinical trial, and one for anemias (advanced pre-clinical development). Burke further showed how the robustness of living systems interfaces with imperfect small molecule mimics to restore physiology. Burke’s lab also developed an automated lego-like platform for small molecule synthesis based on MIDA boronates that is increasingly general. His MIDA boronate chemistry has now been used by >250 academic and industrial labs worldwide to make a wide range of different natural products, pharmaceuticals, materials, and many other types of small molecules (>750 publications, >200 patent applications), and >270 of his MIDA boronates are commercially available. Burke’s group leveraged this platform in collaboration with Chad Rienstra to discover that the clinically vital but also highly toxic fungicidal natural product amphotericin B primarily kills cells by forming an extramembranous sterol sponge, a mechanism that had evaded the scientific community for more than half a century. This enabled Burke to rationally separate the ion channel-forming activity of this natural product to develop molecular prosthetics for cystic fibrosis, and to design a renal-sparing polyene antifungal (advanced preclinical development for life-threatening invasive fungal infections). Based on these advances, Burke (co)-founded four biotechnology companies [REVOLUTION Medicines (Nasdaq: RVMD), cystetic Medicines, Ambys Medicines, and Sfunga Therapeutics], which collectively have one drug candidate in Ph 2, and three more on track to begin clinical trials in 2023. And he co-founded the Molecule Maker Lab Institute that is broadly expanding access to automated small molecule synthesis. Burke also lead the SHIELD: Test, Target, and Tell program at UIUC that created and scalably deployed an FDA Emergency Use Authorized rapid saliva test for SARS-CoV-2, and strategically integrated it with state-of-the-art computational modeling and a custom-built app, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at UIUC. As a leader in COVID-19 testing, he also worked with NASEM Societal Experts Action Network, NASEM Naval Studies Board, U.S. Marine Corps, Council on Foreign Relations, American Public Health Association, Rockefeller Foundation, Office of the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health, and the White House COVID-19 Response Team. Burke also helped SHIELD Illinois and SHIELD T3 expand this testing platform to >1700 K-12 schools, colleges, universities, companies, and organizations throughout the U.S. and other countries, including New Zealand, Philippines, and Indonesia. Worldwide, greater than 10 million COVID-19 tests have been run to date.
Burke’s contributions have been recognized with many honors and awards, including newly‑elected member of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Presidential Medallion (University of Illinois), Membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation, Mukaiyama Award (The Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Japan), Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry (American Chemical Society), Hirata Gold Medal (Japan), Theme-IUPAC Prize in Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Elias J. Corey Award for Outstanding Original Contribution in Organic Synthesis by a Young Investigator (American Chemical Society), Kavli Foundation Emerging Leader in Chemistry Award (American Chemical Society), Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (American Chemical Society), one of the world’s 35 Top Innovators Under 35 (Technology Review Magazine ), and has been repeatedly recognized as a Teacher Ranked as Excellent by the UIUC Center for Teaching Excellence.