Sriram Naganathan, Ph.D. 1992, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
As many things change, many things remain constant. One such constant is the frequent reminder that “You can take the boy out of sulfur chemistry but you cannot take sulfur chemistry out of the boy”. At every stage of my professional career organic chemistry of sulfur and sulfur-containing compounds have followed me (or is it the other way around?). Not many can point to the cover of an Angewandte Chemie issue as a synopsis of his/her thesis work – I will be forever grateful for that opportunity received in the Block Group. As a post-doc in the late Prof. Paul Dowd’s lab at the University of Pittsburgh we used sulfur-containing analogs of vitamin K to probe the mechanism of action. I was then hired at Pfizer Central Research in Groton, CT in the Specialty Chemicals Division to investigate possible decomposition pathways of sulfur-containing high-intensity artificial sweeteners. At Roche Bioscience (Palo Alto, CA) and Exelixis (South San Francisco, CA – my current job) I was involved in process development for the preparation of therapeutic agents, several of them sulfur-containing molecules. Between those two positions I was a Senior Scientist at CellGate (Sunnyvale, CA). We attempted to exploit the chemistry of sulfur-containing linkers to target the delivery active pharmaceutical agents, using the transport properties of polyarginines. Although I thought I was only training to become a synthetic organic chemist, I did not realize that my passion was really organic reaction mechanisms until I arrived in the Block lab – the two arms of the science are truly inseparable. I realize after many years that the seed was really sown and nurtured during the many friendly and sometimes-fiery discussions in the lab, and further solidified in my post-doc years. I learned that every “blip-in-the-baseline” cannot to be ignored, and is part of the whole story. As a process chemist in the pharma industry, I can attribute much of my success to lessons about careful and critical evaluation of primary data and thorough knowledge of reaction mechanisms. I am currently Director, Chemical Development, at Exelixis. My primary responsibility involves the manufacture and potential commercialization of our primary product, cabozantinib. It was only natural that I developed a strong interest in the science of cooking and food. I have been pursuing this avenue since moving to Northern California. I am also an avid gardener, experimenting with growing interesting varieties of chilies, tomatoes and then combining those with all sorts of alliums. It does help that I live close enough to Gilroy, CA, that I can often smell what they are famous for as I walk out of the front door!! I have shared my knowledge in several lectures at the Tech Museum (San Jose, CA) where I was a volunteer exhibit explainer.
My family (my wife Revathi and our two high-school-age daughters Swetha and Sandhya) like to travel and also enjoy the outdoor recreation so abundant in Northern California. We try to take in a new country each year and accomplish personal challenges. After many interesting years in the tech-industry, Revathi is a full-time mom. She is also a fitness instructor at the Y. Swetha and Sandhya are part of the water polo and swim teams at their school. Swetha is very active in a leadership role for the robotics team, and Sandhya belongs to the quiz team. Revathi and I climbed Half Dome (Yosemite) a few years ago and I just completed a 100-mile bicycle ride around Lake Tahoe. I remain a highly-opinionated baseball and college basketball fan (favorite teams: in order, Kansas, North Carolina and whoever happens to be playing Missouri and Duke). I am still an avid photographer, although I spend no money on film (I thought I was going to be the last guy on the planet still shooting film!!). I greatly value the many friendships developed during my stay in Albany and keep in touch with many. In fact, one of my roommates from the SUNY days was instrumental in me getting my present position. Of course, this also means that I have lost touch with several friends during the past decades. If you are reading this and haven’t contacted me in a few years, please do, via e-mail. We enjoy entertaining guests who drop by – so now you have no excuse not to contact us, especially when you visit the SF Bay Area.