Dr. Martin Burke pioneered the development of molecular prosthetics for cystic fibrosis and other difficult to treat human diseases caused by loss of protein function. His group also illuminated how the inherent robustness of living systems can interface with imperfect molecular prosthetics to restore physiology. These advances were driven by his lab’s iterative lego-like platform for small molecule synthesis. This new modular brand of organic chemistry has been automated and used by hundreds of labs worldwide to produce many different natural products, pharmaceuticals and materials. It has also been coupled to artificial intelligence to enable closed-loop discovery of a wide range of new molecular functions and is beginning to democratize molecular innovation.
Burke completed his undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins, a Ph.D. in Chemistry at Harvard, and an M.D. in the Health Sciences and Technology Program at Harvard Medical School and MIT. He helped launch the Carle Illinois College of Medicine and served as its inaugural Associate Dean of Research, founded the Molecule Maker Lab at The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and co-founded the Molecule Maker Lab Institute at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. Burke is a scientific founder of four biotechnology companies which have yielded five drug candidates entered into clinical trials. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and American Society for Clinical Investigation, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and winner of the Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry. He currently resides at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is the May and Ving Lee Professor for Chemical Innovation in the Department of Chemistry.