Adam R. Urbach
Professor of Chemistry
Lab: CSI 345 Mail: Department of Chemistry, 1 Trinity Place, San Antonio, TX, 78212
Phone: (210) 999-7660 Fax: (210) 999-7569
Email: aurbach (at) Office: CSI 370-Q

Teaching Interests: organic chemistry; medicinal chemistry; supramolecular chemistry; research methodology in the classroom.

I love challenging students to think critically, objectively, and creatively in solving new problems, to see the connection between scientific concepts and experiments, and to understand the deeper nature of the wonderful science that is chemistry. I seek to offer a truly outstanding education in the chemical sciences that integrates the classroom lecture and laboratory with research experiences at the leading edge of science. I am proud of our graduates, and I know they leave Trinity well prepared to start their careers.

Bio Courses taught at Trinity: CHEM 1318 (general chemistry), 2319 and 2119 (organic chemistry 1 lecture and lab), 2320 and 2220 (organic chemistry 2 lecture and lab), 2180 and 2130 (research methodology), 4242 (advanced analytical lecture and lab), 4347 (advanced topics: medicinal chemistry, structure-based drug design, supramolecular chemistry, and structural biology), 1190 and 3190 (independent study), and 4399 (honors thesis).
Born Houston, Texas, 1974
B.S. Chemistry, UT Austin 1996
Ph.D. Chemistry, Caltech 2002, with Peter B. Dervan
NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard 2002-04, with George M. Whitesides
Assistant Professor, Trinity University 2004-2010
Associate Professor, Trinity University, 2010-2014  

Research Interests: molecular and biomolecular recognition, supramolecular chemistry, molecular self assembly, multivalent complexes, protein engineering, biosensors

The Urbach laboratory studies the processes by which complementary molecules fit together to form noncovalent complexes in aqueous solution. These processes are at the root of structure and communication in biology as well as human endeavors to interface with biology, including the design of drugs and medical devices. We have developed an approach to selectively recognize proteins and peptides (very small proteins) at a single site using the artificial receptors cucurbit[7]uril (Q7) and cucurbit[8]uril (Q8), which bind to aromatic amino acid residues (tryptophan, phenylalanine, and tyrosine) at the N-terminus of polypeptide chains. Applications of this strategy to the characterization of proteases and protease inhibitors, as well as to the development of affinity tags and sensors for proteins and peptides have been developed more recently. We are also concerned with novel strategies for engineering molecules that self-assemble--that is, spontaneously form multicomponent assemblies in a controlled fashion. Recent publications are listed below. Student stipends, supplies, and equipment are currently funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Welch Foundation, and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, with over $1.5M in individual research grants and $735k in shared instrumentation grants awarded over the past nine years.

Interested students should visit the Research Group Website. An introduction for undergraduate students can be found here.

Selected Publications (* indicates Trinity undergraduate coauthors)

"Sequence-Specific, Nanomolar Peptide Binding via Cucurbit[8]uril-Induced Folding and Inclusion of Neighboring Side Chains" Lauren C. Smith, David G. Leach*, Brittney E. Blaylock*, Omar A. Ali*, and Adam R. Urbach, Journal of the American Chemical Society, in press.

"Sequence-Specific Inhibition of a Nonspecific Protease" Leigh A. Logsdon* and Adam R. Urbach, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2013, 135, 11414-11416.

"Effects of Sequence Context on the Binding of Tryptophan-Containing Peptides by the Cucurbit[8]uril-Methyl Viologen Complex" Omar A. Ali*, Eric M. Olson*, and Adam R. Urbach, Supramolecular Chemistry, 2013, 25, 863-868.

"A Cucurbit[8]uril Sponge" Vijayakumar Ramalingam, Sharon K. Kwee*, and Adam R. Urbach, Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, 2012, 10, 8587-8589 (selected as a Hot Article).

"Nanomolar Binding of Peptides Containing Noncanonical Amino Acids by a Synthetic Receptor" Leigh A. Logsdon*, Christopher L. Schardon, Vijayakumar Ramalingam, Sharon K. Kwee*, and Adam R. Urbach, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2011, 133, 17087-17092. link to DOI

"Cucurbit[8]uril Rotaxanes" Vijayakumar Ramalingam and Adam R. Urbach, Organic Letters 2011, 13, 4898-4901. link to DOI

"Molecular Recognition of Insulin by a Synthetic Receptor" Jordan M. Chinai*, Alexander B. Taylor, Lisa M. Ryno*, Nicholas D. Hargreaves*, Christopher A. Morris*, P. John Hart, and Adam R. Urbach, Journal of the American Chemical Society 2011, 133, 8810-8813 (selected as a Spotlight Article). link to DOI

"Determining Protease Substrate Selectivity and Inhibition by Label-Free Supramolecular Tandem Enzyme Assays" Garima Ghale, Vijayakumar Ramalingam, Adam R. Urbach, and Werner M. Nau, Journal of the American Chemical Society 2011, 133, 7528-7535. link to DOI

"Molecular Recognition of Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins by Cucurbit[n]uril Receptors" Adam R. Urbach and Vijayakumar Ramalingam, Israel Journal of Chemistry 2011, 51, 664-678. link to DOI


Visiting Associate in Chemical Engineering, Caltech, 2011-2012
Professor, Trinity University, 2014-
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2009 Henry Dreyfus Teacher Scholar
2008 NSF CAREER Award
2007 Trinity University Distinguished Junior Faculty Award
2006 Cottrell College Science Award
2003-04 NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard
1996-99 NSF Graduate Fellow, Caltech
1996 Phi Beta Kappa, UT Austin
1996 Dean's Honored Graduate, UT Austin
1996 Outstanding Senior Award, UT Austin
1995 Pfizer Undergraduate Fellow, UT Austin
1995 ACS Student Affiliates Scholarship, UT Austin