Here I am, not wanting to admit I’m past my sell-by date, but I couldn’t feel luckier because of four relationships (and a bonus fifth one, below) with former group members who became, and remain, my most valued clicking collaborators:
chemistry doctoral-student-turned-glycobiologist and a colleague since 2015, Scripps Research Professor Peng Wu;
the postdoc who discovered SuFFex and now back where he received his PhD, Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry Professor Jiajia Dong;
joining my group after receiving a Cambridge PhD from my old MIT colleague and friend Sir Jack Baldwin, Professor John Moses is the first chemist to be appointed (2020) to the Cold Spring Harbor Labs’ faculty, and he’s a click chemist;
and, a decade pre-Scripps, becoming my graduate student at MIT in 1980 (leading the AE’s mechanistic studies back then) and in this century co-authoring the original click chemistry paper (contributing the scholarly integrity that made it Angewandte’s most-cited ever), then shared the decision enabling in situ click chemistry, and invented click bioconjugation, Georgia Tech’s School of Chemistry and Biology chair, and the first to hold their James A. Carlos Family Chair for Pediatric Technology, the nonpareil Professor M.G. Finn. It’s comforting, and wonderful, knowing these four are in click chemistry’s future.
M.G was only able to make Click chemistry: diverse chemical function from a few good reactions a classic (more than twenty years after publication is remains one of the journal’s top ten downloads) because he had near-perfect, material to work with, attributable to Hartmuth Kolb, the bonus, grown up former group member. I have no doubt Hartmuth would still be one of collaborators who make my life now so rewarding if he hadn’t settled in industry. Present at the beginning of click chemistry and both a founder and its creative developer, Hartmuth was the one who make click chemistry a success. He came to postdoc and immediately lived up to Steve Ley’s nickname, The Panzer Tank. Hartmuth is unique. His drive to take a project to completion and cheerful rescues whenever the rest of us faltered; his matchless foundation in chemical science exploited with such creative flexibility. Twenty years ago we were the three amigos who did the click manifesto and a lot of really good, new and/or useful chemistry. We reunited recently to write a commentary for the launch of Science Synthesis. What a pleasure! And Hartmuth is still the kindest, perennially upbeat and happiest "happy chappy" I know.