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George Barany was born in Hungary in 1955 and emigrated with his family to the USA in 1960. Barany attended the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in New York City, and then, in 1971, started his graduate studies with Professor R.B. Merrifield at The Rockefeller University. He published his first paper in 1973 on the synthesis of an ATP-binding peptide. Barany received his Ph.D. in 1977 for the development of the Dts protecting group, and began his independent academic career at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus in 1980. His present rank of full Professor of Chemistry was reached in 1991, and a joint appointment as Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology took effect in 1996. Barany was named a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in 1997.
Professor Barany's research interests involve peptide synthesis (particularly the solid-phase method), protecting groups for organic functionalities (with an emphasis of the concept of orthogonality), the chemistry of thiols, disulfides, and polysulfanes, functionalization of soluble and insoluble polymers, and mass spectrometry. His research, described in over 350 scientific publications, has covered areas ranging from the chemical synthesis of garlic constituents to studies on the mechanisms of protein folding to methods for chemical combinatorial libraries to advances in the preparation of anti-sense DNA and RNA to the development of DNA and PNA arrays for the multiplex detection of genetic diseases. Barany has authored a number of seminal review articles on various aspects of the peptide field. He served a six-year term on the Council of the American Peptide Society and was co-Chair of the Sixteenth American Peptide Symposium, held in Minneapolis June 26-July 1, 1999. The (non-scientific) highlight of this meeting was Peptide Ångst: La Triviata, the first-ever opera about peptides (co-authored with Gary Gisselman). Professor Barany was listed among "America's 100 Brightest Scientists under 40" by Science Digest in 1984, and received in 1994 the Vincent du Vigneaud Award for outstanding achievements in peptide research and in 2006 the Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry from the American Chemical Society. A biographical vignette about Professor Barany and the award appeared in Chemical & Engineering News. Other honors include his selection as a Searle Scholar in 1982 and a USPHS Research Career Development Award from 1982-87.
With Dr. Barbara Goldenberg, Professor Barany has two children: Michael Jeremy born in 1987, and Deborah Adina born in 1989. Professor Barany's parents, Michael and Kate, both passed away (6 weeks apart) in 2011 after distinguished international academic careers and almost 62 years of marriage. Professor Barany's brother, Francis, is a Professor of Microbiology at the Sanford Weill College of Medicine of Cornell University, and indeed, the brothers have published a paper together. A highlight of Professor Barany's career is a paper first-authored by his son Michael, and co-authored by his mentor R. B. Merrifield and his former student Bob Hammer. This project also earned Michael finalist status in the 2005 Intel Science Talent Search, and designation as a KARE 11 Academic All-Star. On the occasion of a momentous anniversary in music history, Professor Barany collaborated with Michael Shteyman on a New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle which was published January 22, 2006, and which received some attention in the University and local press. In all, Professor Barany has co-written over a hundred puzzles, which are compiled here.
Some Interesting Links about Professor Barany:
Ring Around The Nitrogen (HTML)
Research News of the Chemistry Department featuring recently published work by Prof. Barany's son Michael.
"A Prodigy Grows Up" (PDF)
Profile of Prof. Barany, by Steve Kaplan, published in June 1985 Mpls. St. Paul magazine
"Professor's Work is a Family Affair" (PDF)
Minnesota Daily article about Prof. Barany (February 25, 1997): "Like in his life, humor, science and family mesh on Barany's office door. Balancing family, research and teaching can be tough, but colleagues say Barany is a model of that balance."
U of M Internet Welcome Kit, Interviews with Prof. Barany (Quicktime Video)
Does your research connect with other disciplines? (5.95 MB)
How do you interact with the students you advise? (981 KB)
What are your students who have graduated doing? (1.93 MB)
"The First 50 Years" (PDF)
A poem by some of Prof. Barany's colleagues in honor of his 50th Birthday (Feb. 19, 2005).
"Head of the Class" (HTML)
Inventing Tomorrow magazine (online), spring 2005.
When it comes to innovative teaching methods, chemistry professor George Barany deserves special mention.
"Barany Thespians 2005 Edition. 'Are you in the Mood for Chemistry?' Skit"
(YouTube Video: 10 min)
This was a production of Prof. Barany's Fall 2005 class, and demonstrates the role catalysts play in stereochemistry and regiochemistry, with a reference to 1930's swing music. Before viewing the video (using QuickTime or equivalent), you may want to read the synopsis that will allow you to follow along (and learn the names of the creative students who wrote and performed this skit).
Study Guide Associated with the 2005 Skit (PDF)
Thespians 2004 Edition. 'Organic Chemistry Reaction Network' Skit" (YouTube Video: 9 min)
This was a production of Prof. Barany's Fall 2004 class, performed on Wednesday, October 20, 2004, and demonstrates the stereochemistry and regiochemistry of SN2, E2, SN1, E1, and rearrangement reactions. Before viewing the video (using QuickTime or equivalent), you may want to read the synopsis that will allow you to follow along (and learn the names of the creative students who wrote and performed this skit).
Synopsis of the 2004 Skit (PDF)
"Halloween 2003 Skit to Demonstrate SN2 Stereochemistry and E2 Regiochemistry" (YouTube Video: 7 min)
This was a production of Prof. Barany's Fall 2003 class, performed on Halloween 2003. Sorry about the awkward camera angles and uneven sound quality. Before viewing the video (using Quick Time or equivalent), you may want to click below and print out a synopsis that will allow you to follow along (and learn the names of the creative students who wrote and performed this skit).
Synopsis of the 2003 Skit (PDF)