Dennis A. Dougherty

Dennis A. Dougherty
Born (1952-12-04) December 4, 1952 (age 70)
Alma materBucknell University B.S/M.S (1974)
Princeton University Ph.D (1978)
Yale University post-doctoral (1979)
AwardsRichard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2010)
Arthur C. Cope Award (2020)
Scientific career
Academic advisorsKurt Mislow
Doctoral studentsLisa McElwee-White

Dennis A. Dougherty (born December 4, 1952 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) is the George Grant Hoag Professor of Chemistry at California Institute of Technology. His research applies physical organic chemistry to systems of biological importance. Dougherty utilizes a variety of approaches to further our understanding of the human brain, including the in vivo nonsense suppression methodology for incorporating unnatural amino acids into a variety of ion channels for structure-function studies.


Dougherty received his B.S. and M.S. in 1974 from Bucknell University. Subsequently, he earned his Ph.D. in 1978 under the supervision of Kurt Mislow at Princeton University and was a post-doctoral scholar in Jerome Berson's lab at Yale University in 1979.


In 1979 Dougherty became a member of the Caltech faculty, earning tenure in 1985. He is the scientific co-founder of Neurion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. In 2005 he published a textbook entitled Modern Physical Organic Chemistry with co-author Eric V. Anslyn.

Dougherty is the recipient of multiple teaching awards including the Richard Badger Teaching Award (1992), the ASCIT Excellence in Teaching Award (1987 and 2000), and the Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2010). In 2009, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Cation-π Interaction

Selected publications


  • Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar (1984–1989)
  • AstraZeneca Excellence in Chemistry Award (1991)
  • Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (1992)
  • Javits Neuroscience Investigator, NIH (2004)
  • ACS James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry (2008)
  • Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2010)
  • Arthur C. Cope Award (2020)

Professional memberships

Personal life

He currently lives in South Pasadena with his wife Dr. Ellen Dougherty, the superintendent of the Lawndale Elementary School District.

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