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The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

UMass Boston Professor wins Fluorous Technology Award

The University is proud to have a Fluorous Technology Award winner on their staff. Professor Wei Zhang is the director of the Center for Green Chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Zhang’s peers recognized his achievement in this new and blooming field. He is only the ninth winner of this award since the first winner (the scientists who first developed fluorous technology) two decades of ago.
Twenty years ago, fluorous technology did not exist. The first paper on this topic was published in 1995. With Zhang and fellow research utilizing this new technology, scientists are able to create new drug candidates. It starts with making a library of thousands of molecules of one type, each with a little variation in structure, with the variation any one of them could become a successful target for disease. 
“Reactions aren’t always clean,” he says. Zhang explains a little bit of the process of his lab work: “After a reaction, you have a mixture of compounds. You have to isolate the product at a high level of purity for biological testing.”
“I graduated from University of Pittsburgh. A professor at Pittsburgh started a company called Fluorous Technologies” Zhang talks about how he got involved with Fluorous Technologies “He knew me when I was a graduate student and he included me as one of the founding members.”
During the early stages of fluorous chemistry, Zhang did a lot of his research with a team at DuPont Agricultural Products. In 2008 Zhang came to join the UMass Boston family and brought along the knowledge and research from his  tenure at Fluorous Technologies. In the past couple of years Zhang has published at least 162 peer reviewed papers, out of which 73 of were published while he was here at UMass Boston.
“I am the third most published in the field” Zhang “This year Harvard invited me to talk about Earth Day in April.”
For Zhang to receive this award is an important recognition of his contributions to the field of medical chemistry and green chemistry, and it proves the continuing excellence of UMass Boston’s education and research in the field of green chemistry.