Dr. Uttam K. Tambar honored for advancements in chemical research

Houston, TX – April 1, 2019 – The Welch Foundation today announced that Dr. Uttam K. Tambar is the recipient of the 2019 Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research. Having already made significant scientific contributions in selective functionalization of hydrocarbons, Dr. Tambar is being recognized as a ‘rising star’ in his field. 

“We are proud to honor Dr. Tambar who is not only an accomplished researcher but also a remarkable mentor,” said Carin M. Barth, Chair, The Welch Foundation Board of Directors.  “We are always in awe of the outstanding research done by Texas scientists and Dr. Tambar’s is nothing short of profound.  We look forward to honoring him with this year’s Hackerman Award.”

An Associate Professor in the Biochemistry Department at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dr. Tambar has made high impact discoveries in organic chemistry that have changed the field, with broad applications in medicine and materials science. 

“Receiving the Hackerman Award is a humbling and wonderful honor,” said Dr. Tambar. “When I learned that I was the recipient, I immediately thought of the members of my lab who helped discover the science that allowed me to win this award.  The success we’ve had is shaped by our environment and our lab is a truly collaborative process.”

“Dr. Tambar is a superb young scientist and leader in the field of synthetic chemistry,” said Peter B. Dervan, Chair, The Welch Foundation Scientific Advisory Board.  “His innovation in stereoselective catalysis is both fundamental and practical.  He has pioneered a new approach for the conversion of hydrocarbons into medically relevant nitrogen-containing molecules.  The development of these new reactions will be of benefit to the discovery of new medicines.”

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry and physics from Harvard, Dr. Tambar went on to earn his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology.  He worked as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University before he began his independent research career at UT Southwestern in 2009.  Just after establishing this lab, he received a grant from The Welch Foundation in 2010. Other awards and honors include the Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship (2013), NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award (2012) and Thieme Chemistry Journal Award (2012).  Dr. Tambar’s research has been published in notable journals including Nature, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Angewandte Chemie, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America and Chemical Science.

“Funding from The Welch Foundation was the most important grant in the early history of our lab,” said Dr. Tambar. “It was the first grant we received and allowed us to establish our research program. Even today, funding from the Foundation allows us to work in new directions and gives us the resources to be creative and risky when exploring new areas of science.” 

The Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research was established by The Welch Foundation to honor Norman Hackerman, its Scientific Advisory Board chair from 1982 to 2006. The award recognizes the accomplishments of chemical scientists in Texas who are early in their careers. It is designed to encourage scientists who are embarking on careers dedicated to increasing our fundamental understanding of chemistry. Upon accepting the award, Dr. Tambar will receive $100,000, as well as a bronze sculpture to commemorate the occasion. 

The Welch Foundation, based in Houston, is one of the nation’s largest private funding sources for basic chemical research.  Since 1954, the organization has contributed nearly $900 million to the advancement of chemistry through research grants, departmental grants, endowed chairs and support for other chemistry-related programs in Texas.

For more information on the Foundation and a list of previous Hackerman Award recipients, please visit www.welch1.org.

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