• Philadelphia Organic Chemists' Club


    Bringing Together Industrial and Academic Chemists Since 1945; Over 75 Years of Great Chemistry!


2023-2024 Seminar Series
NOTE: All talks are anticipated to be IN PERSON for the 2023-2024 cycle.

About P.O.C.C.

The Philadelphia Organic Chemists' Club (POCC) is one of the oldest independent chemistry clubs in the United States and it works in conjunction with area universities and pharmaceutical companies to allow distinguished scientists to speak to a broad chemistry audience from the Philadelphia area. The organization's central purpose is to facilitate the interaction between scientists, particularly between academic and the numerous chemical and pharmaceutical companies. The POCC lectures and events provide a monthly forum.
The POCC has been actively sponsoring seminars in Philadelphia since at least 1945 (check out the archives!). Typically, the POCC meets on the last Thursday of the month, often with the speaker being hosted during the day by one of the local chemical or pharmaceutical companies. The POCC event is held in the University of Pennsylvania Chemistry Department, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with a social hour, followed by the seminar at 7:30 p.m.

Seminar Schedule


Sept 21
Dr. John Curto

"Design and synthesis of small molecule GLP-1 receptor agonists"
Sponsored by: Pfizer

Oct 19
Dr. Dan Paone

"Discovery of an MRGPRX2 Antagonist Clinical Candidate for the Treatment of Mast Cell Diseases"
Sponsored by: FCTDI

Nov 16
Alison Levens

"Discovery of Tetflupyrolimet and Rimisoxafen "
Sponsored by: FMC

Dec 7
Sophie Rousseaux

"New Strategies for the Synthesis and Functionalization of Small Rings and Nitriles"
Sponsored by Incyte

Jan 18
John Wood

"Recent Advances in the Synthesis of Complex Natural Products"
Sponsored by: BMS
Allan Day Award Lecture

Feb 15
L-C Campeau

"Changing the World One Reaction at A Time: Unique Challenges in the Development of a Robust and Sustainable Manufacturing Process to Belzutifan "
Sponsored by: Pharmablock
POCC Industry Award Lecture

Mar 21
Alexander Grenning

"Malononitrile: A Love Story & Exploring an Alternate Universe of Axially Chiral Natural Products"
Sponsored by: Merck

Apr 18
Corinna Schindler

"Azetidines, Azetines, and Oxetanes: New Cycloadditions of Imines and Carbonyls" Sponsored by: FMC
Student Choice Lecture

May 16
Danica Rankic

"Gearing in Potency and Properties through Scalable Molecular Complexity" by: Merck
Women In Chemistry Lecture


Thanks to all of our amazing sponsors for supporting our seminar series over the years!


Meet the POCC Leadership

Zhenzhen Dongk

Director of Chemistry Research and Business Innovation, Pharmablock

Zhenzhen’s journey began in Shanghai, where she earned her BS in Polymer Science and Engineering from Shanghai Jiaotong University in 2002. She pursued her passion for chemistry in the United States, completing her Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of Delaware under Prof. Joseph Fox in 2007. For the last 15 years, Zhenzhen had been a key member of Adesis Inc.'s Chemistry group. Recently, she embarked on a new chapter by joining PharmaBlock (USA). Zhenzhen is a strong advocate for diversity in STEM and founded AWISE in 2021. Beyond her career, she enjoys gardening, fitness, movies, crafting, and spending time with her young daughter, Pekinese dog, and two kittens.

Contact Zhenzhen: zhenzhen_dong@pharmablock.com

John A. Milligan

Chair-Elect, Assistant Professor at Thomas Jefferson University

John Milligan is an Assistant Professor in the College of Life Sciences at Thomas Jefferson University. After earning his B.S. in chemistry from Allegheny College, he undertook graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh in Prof. Peter Wipf's research group and earned his Ph.D. in 2018. He then joined Prof. Gary Molander's group at the University of Pennsylvania as a postdoctoral researcher, where his research focused on developing radical/polar crossover reactions with bis(catecholato)silicate reagents. His current research interests focus on the development of other transformations with these reagents. These efforts have been funded in part by the Organic Syntheses grant program for research at primarily undergraduate institutions.

Contact John: john.milligan@jefferson.edu

Joseph M. Karpinski

Treasurer, Chemistry Laboratory Coordinator @ University of Delaware

Joseph Karpinski graduated from Ursinus College with a bachelor’s degree in Biology, and from Lehigh University with a master's degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. After a 23-year career as a synthetic organic chemist, he taught full-time for 10 years and now works as a Laboratory Coordinator at the University of Delaware. He lives in Kennett Square, PA, and has three adult children. He enjoys, golfing, reading, and winemaking.

Contact Joseph: jkarpins@eastern.edu

Craig A. Zificsak

Secretary, Chemist @ Adesis, Inc.

Craig grew up in Wisconsin and attended UW-Stevens Point for his BS and Univ. of Minnesota for graduate school. Following a post-doc at Johnson & Johnson, he worked for 14 years in small molecule discovery at Cephalon and Teva Pharmaceuticals. Since 2018, he has been working on small molecule discovery and process development projects at Adesis, Inc. He enjoys travel and watching his son play baseball.

Contact Craig: secretary.pocc@gmail.com

Jordan Artzy

Assistant Secretary, Graduate Student @ the University of Pennsylvania (Trauner Laboratory)

Jordan was born in Miami FL. He received his B.S. in Biochemistry from Florida State University in 2022, where he worked on natural product synthesis via pyridinium dearomatization in the Joel Smith lab. He is now a PhD student in the Trauner laboratory at UPenn and has a strong interest in total synthesis and medicinal chemistry.

Contact Jordan: jartzy@sas.upenn.edu

Jonathan Nadraws

Student Representative, Graduate Student @ the University of Pennsylvania (Smith Laboratory)

Jonathan was raised in Allentown, PA, and received his BS in chemistry from Moravian College, where he studied under the mentorship of Professor Michael Bertucci. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania in the lab of Professor Amos B. Smith, III, where he studies natural product total synthesis and medicinal chemistry.

Contact Jonathan: jnadraws@sas.upenn.edu

Derek Yang

Social Media Director, Graduate Student @ the University of Pennsylvania (Smith Laboratory)

Derek grew up in Sunnyvale, CA and attended UC Santa Barbara for undergrad where he got a B.S. in biochemistry and a B.A. in political science. At UCSB, Derek studied under Professor Tom Pettus and investigated o-Quinone Methide intermediates as a means of making benzoxazine rings. After graduating in 2020, he now is a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania under the mentorship of Professor Amos B. Smith, III, where he works on small molecule synthesis to study and treat HIV

Contact Derek: dyangg@sas.upenn.edu

Christopher Kelly

Web Master, Scientist @ Janssen R & D

A native New Yorker, Chris’s interest in synthesis was sparked during his undergraduate studies at Stonehill College. At Stonehill, Chris worked under Prof. Leon Tilley and completed a targeted synthesis of 1-(trifluoromethyl)bicyclo[1.1.0]butane. Chris moved to UCONN in 2010 to perform his doctoral work under Prof. Nicholas Leadbeater. At UCONN, he worked in the areas of organofluorine chemistry and sustainable oxidative processes. In 2015, he continued his training under Prof. Gary Molander at the University of Pennsylvania as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow. At Penn, Chris’s research utilized photoredox catalysis to enable C–C bond construction. After a short stint (2018-2019) in academia as an Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, he joined Janssen's Discovery Process Research team to tackle problems relating to human health. However, because of his passion for teaching, Chris also serves as the lecturer for CHEM 746, a graduate-level organic chemistry course at Penn, since Fall 2020.

Contact Chris: Ckelly5@its.jnj.com

Join Us for Great Chemistry and Refreshments

Seminars are held at 7:30 p.m. in the Carol Hoff Lynch Hall at the Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania. Prior to that, there is a social hour, starting at 6:30 PM with pizza and other refreshments. Those interested are encouraged to come early to have the chance to interact with faculty, industrial scientists amd the seminar speaker themselves in a relaxed,friendly reception hall.

University of Pennsylvania

Address: 231 S 34th St Philadelphia, PA 19104

Seminars are in the Carol Hoff Lynch Hall

Get Directions

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