Michael D. Clift

Assistant Professor
Primary office:
Malott Hall
Room 4023

Areas of Specialization

Organic Chemistry, Asymmetric Catalysis, Total Synthesis of Natural Products

Academic Degrees

  • B.S. Western Michigan University, 2005
  • Ph.D. Northwestern University, 2010
  • Postdoctoral Associate, Princeton University, 2010-2013

Research Interests

Research in the Clift group focuses heavily on the development of new catalytic methods for organic synthesis.  In biological systems, enzymatic cofactors display a seemingly limitless array of powerful organic reactivity.  By harnessing the potential of these unique organic molecules in abiotic environments, we seek to discover novel synthetic strategies that will enable a diverse range of enantioselective transformations. 

Specifically, we are interested in the development of new organocatalytic reaction manifolds that will enable a variety of C−C bond forming events through inert bond functionalization. The successful pursuit of these goals is expected to deliver synthetic methods that will facilitate previously challenging or even impossible chemical transformations.  In a broader context, this work will ultimately accelerate the construction of biologically relevant natural products and other medicinal agents by providing new means for the strategic disconnection of these valuable synthetic targets. 

Selected Publications


8. Direct beta-Alkylation of Aldehydes via Photoredox OrganocatalysisTerrett, J. A.; Clift, M. D.; MacMillan, D. W. C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. manuscript in press (ASAP).

7. Oxidative Coupling of Enolates, Enol Silanes and Enamines: Methods and Natural Product Synthesis. Guo, F.; Clift, M. D.; Thomson, R. J. Eur. J. Org. Chem. 2012, 4881–4896.

6. Total Synthesis of the Galbulimima Alkaloid (−)-GB17.  Larson, R. T.; Clift, M. D.; Thomson, R. J. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 201251, 2481–2484.

5. Enantioselective Total Synthesis and Confirmation of the Absolute and Relative Stereochemistry of Streptorubin B, Hu, D. X.; Clift, M. D. and Thomson, R. J. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011, 133, 1799–1804.

4. Development of a Merged Conjugate Addition/Oxidative Coupling Sequence. Application to the Enantioselective Total Synthesis of Metacycloprodigiosin and Prodigiosin R1, Clift, M. D. and Thomson, R. J. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 14579–14583.

3. Oxidative Carbon–Carbon Bond Formation via Silyl Bis-enol Ethers: Controlled Cross-coupling for the Synthesis of Quaternary Centers, Clift, M. D.; Taylor, C. N.; Thomson, R. J. Org. Lett. 2007, 9, 4667–4669.

2. Enantiomers of 4-Amino-3-fluorobutanoic Acid as Substrates for γ-Aminobutyric Acid Aminotransferase. Conformational Probes for GABA Binding, Clift, M. D.; Ji, H.; Deniau, G. P.; O’Hagan, D.; Silverman, R. B. Biochemistry 2007, 46, 13819–13828.

1. Synthesis and evaluation of novel aromatic substrates and competitive inhibitors of GABA aminotransferase, Clift, M. D.; Silverman, R. B. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2007, 18 (10), 3122–3125.

Chemistry department receives more than $6 million in research grants annually
14 chemistry faculty members have NSF CAREER Awards
Longest-running chemistry Research Experience for Undergraduates in the nation
  • Mon, Feb. 15-Analytical-No Seminar
  • Wed, Feb. 17-DyMERS-Melissa Denler & Matthew Barclary-1003 Malott-3:30p
  • Thu, Feb. 18-Organic-No Seminar
  • Fri, Feb. 19-Department Seminar-Greg Swain, Michigan State University-1001 Malott-3:30p