Institute of Biomedical Health Technology and Engineering
Senior Principal Investigator
2021 - Present
Tsinghua University SIGS Outstanding Professor of Practice
2017 - Present
Shenzhen Life Science Co., Ltd. Chairman of the Board
2014 - 2016
Merck Research Laboratories, Merck & Co., Inc. Executive Director, Business Development and Licensing Dept.
2012 - 2014
MSD R&D (China) Vice President, Greater China Lead, External Sci. Affairs, Worldwide Licensing/Acquisitions
2011 - 2012
China Operations，Merck Research Laboratories, Merck & Co., Inc. Executive Director, Discovery and Preclinical Sciences
2010 - 2011
Merck Research Laboratories, Merck & Co., Inc. Executive Director, MRL Emerging Markets R&D
1993 - 2010
Merck Research Laboratories, Merck & Co., Inc. Senior Scientific Director
1983 - 1989
California Institute of Technology PhD
1978 - 1982
Xiamen University B.S.
The thrust of Dr. Sun’s effort is to translate discoveries in basic biomedical research into novel therapeutics. Current focus is on oncology and immuno oncology. Also of interest is development of enabling technologies (including but not limited to catalysis and computational chemistry) to accelerate innovation cycle of new drug discovery and development.
Dr. Yongkui Sun graduated from Caltech with a Ph.D. in chemistry and began his professional career at MSD (also known as Merck & Co., Inc. in North America) in 1993 as a Senior Research Chemist. He gained rich experiences in R&D, business, and management at MSD by taking on responsibilities across six departments, from discovery and development of novel therapeutics, to China R&D strategy and operation, and to business development and licensing. During his tenure at MSD, he delivered significant value of science to the company, contributing to the development of Crixivan®, Maxalt®, Emend®, Cordaptive®，Taranabant, and Januvia®. He has 72 publications, out of which 54 were from his career at MSD.
In 2010 Dr. Sun took on a new position to lead the effort to set up the MSD R&D Center in China. The effort led to the establishment of the MSD R&D Center in Beijing in 2012. In 2012, Dr. Sun joined MSD’s Business Development and Licensing department as Vice President leading search and evaluation of innovations in Greater China. He played a key role in licensing in, for the first time in MSD history from Greater China, an innovative therapeutic candidate that contributed to strengthening MSD’s pipeline.
Dr. Sun received several notable accolades from within MSD as well as from outside MSD in recognition of his contributions and leadership. At MSD, he was named a Presidential Fellow in 2006, the highest honor in MSD Research Laboratories; externally his accolades include the Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award (2009), the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2005 and in 2006, UK’s Institute of Chemical Engineers' AstraZeneca Award for Excellence in Green Chemistry and Engineering in 2005, and “We Work for Health Champions” Award from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) in 2010. Dr. Sun was elected a member of the US National Academy of Engineering in 2016.
Elected as a member of the US National Academy of Engineering in 2016
A direct asymmetric hydrogenation of unprotected enamino esters and amides is described. Catalyzed by Rh complexes with Josiphos-type chiral ligands, this method gives β-amino esters and amides in high yield and high ee (93−97% ee). No acyl protection/deprotection is required.
Direct asymmetric reductive amination, J. Am. Chem. Soc. (2009), 131, 11316
2004 Research Process Optimization Award, Merck Research Laboratories
2005 US EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award
2005 UK’s Institute of Chemical Engineers' AstraZeneca Award for Excellence in Green Chemistry and Engineering
2006 Presidential Fellows Award, Merck Research Laboratories
2006 Operation Excellence Award, Merck & Co., Inc.
2006 US EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award
2009 Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award
2010 “We Work for Health Champions” Award, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
2016 Elected a member of the US National Academy of Engineering
1. W. Henry Weinberg*, Yongkui Sun. “Quantification of Primary Versus Secondary C-H Bond Cleavage in Alkane Activation: Propane on Pt”. Science, 1991, Vol.253, 542-545
2. Yongkui Sun, Ralph N. Landau, Jian Wang, Carl LeBlond, and Donna G. Blackmond*. “A Re-Examination of Pressure Effects on Enantioselectivity in Asymmetric Catalytic Hydrogenation”. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 1996. 118(6). 1348-1353.
3. Karl B. Hansen*, Yi Hsiao*, Feng Xu*, Nelo Rivera, Andrew Clausen, Michele Kubryk, Shane Krska, Thorsten Rosner, Bryon Simmons, Jaume Balsells, Nori Ikemoto, Yongkui Sun, Felix Spindler, Christophe Malan, Edward J. J. Grabowski, and Joseph D. Armstrong III .“Highly Efficient Asymmetric Synthesis of Sitagliptin”. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2009. 131(25), 8798-8804.
4. C. LeBlond, J. Wang, J. Liu, A. T. Andrews, and Y.-K. Sun* .“Highly Enantioselective Heterogeneously Catalyzed Hydrogenation of α-Ketoesters under Mild Conditions”. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 1999. 121(20). 4920-4921.
5. Guohua Hou, Francis Gosselin*, Wei Li, J. Christopher, McWilliams, Yongkui Sun, Mark Weisel, Paul D. O’Shea, Cheng-yi Chen, Ian W. Davies, Xumu Zhang* . “Enantioselective Hydrogenation of N-H Imines”. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2009. 131(29). 9882-9883.