Véronique Gouverneur appointed as Waynflete Professor of Chemistry

Merton's Professor Véronique Gouverneur, Tutor in Organic Chemistry, has been appointed to the Waynflete Professorship of Chemistry in the University of Oxford Department of Chemistry.

Commenting on her appointment, Professor Gouverneur said:

"I am thrilled to take on the Waynflete Professorship. I am convinced that our future is bright with the best of organic chemistry yet to come, and profound changes and unexpected advances ahead of us, most likely at the interface with other disciplines."

She added:

"Oxford is a highly concentrated environment of bright students and bright minds at all career stages. Together, we have the responsibility to make a difference for the benefit of humankind through the advancement of fundamental knowledge, and with new solutions to complex societal problems in turbulent times."

Professor Gouverneur’s interdisciplinary research lies at the interface of chemistry and medicine. She is specialised in fluorine chemistry with a focus on late stage fluorination using both the naturally occurring isotope 19F and the cyclotron-produced positron emitting radioisotope 18F. These advances have found direct applications in the pharmaceutical sector and in clinical imaging, particularly Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Her approach to PET 18F-radiochemistry, being distinct from conventional practices, has granted access to radioactive tracers that had been too difficult or impossible to prepare, thereby unlocking and accelerating diagnostic and drug discovery programmes.

Professor Gouverneur, who grew up in Belgium, studied for a Chemistry PhD at the Université Catholique de Louvain (LLN, Belgium) with Léon Ghosez. In 1992, she moved to a postdoctoral position with Professor Richard Lerner at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, USA, following which she accepted the position of Maître de Conférence at the University Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, working with Dr Charles Mioskowski.

Veronique started her independent research career at the University of Oxford in 1998 in the Chemistry Faculty, where, in her own words, "I became quickly addicted to the world of fluorine, and its applications in medicine and drug discovery." She was promoted to Professor of Chemistry in 2008, and elected to the Royal Society in 2019.

In October 2021 Professor Gouverneur was awarded the 2022 ACS Arthur C Cope Award, one of the highest honours bestowed by the American Chemical Society. In May this year she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and she has also recently been named by the European Chemical Society as the recipient of the EuChemS Female Organic Chemist of the Year 2022 Award for her ongoing contributions in developing novel synthetic methodologies for the preparation of fluorinated targets.

Previous Waynflete Professors include William Henry Perkin Jr (the first head of the Dyson Perrins laboratory), Sir Robert Robinson, Sir Jack Baldwin, and most recently Professor Steve Davies.