Skip Navigation

Skip to Main Content


Main Navigation:

Department of Chemistry
The Johns Hopkins University
138 Remsen Hall
3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218

Kenneth Karlin
Department Chair

Phone 410-516-7429
Fax 410-516-8420


Craig A. Townsend

Organic and Bioorganic Chemistry

Johns Hopkins University
Remsen 252
3400 North Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21218

Phone:  410.516.7444
Townsend Group Website

Ph.D. - Yale University
Postdoctoral Fellow - Eidgenssiche Technische Hochschule, Zurich

Craig A. Townsend is the Alsoph H. Corwin Professor of Chemistry and holds joint appointments in the Departments of Biology and Biophysics. He received his B.A. with Honors in chemistry from Williams College and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Yale University, where he was an NIH Predoctoral Fellow and won the Richard L. Wolfgang Prize. He was then an International Exchange Postdoctoral Fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation at the ETH in Zurich, and joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins in 1976. His research interests are in the chemistry of natural products and the interface of organic chemistry, biology and medicine:  synthetic, stereochemical and mechanistic studies of principal biosynthetic enzymes and their engineering for synthetic ends; chemoenzymatic synthesis; enzymology and molecular biology of polyketides and beta-lactam antibiotics; drug design and the clinical applications of fatty acid synthesis inhibition in the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases, and targets of lipid metabolism for metaboic diseases and obesity. Professor Townsend has been a Research Fellow of the A. P. Sloan Foundation, a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar; he has received the Maryland Chemist of the Year award and an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society, and the Stuart Pharmaceuticals (now Astra/Zeneca) Award in Chemistry. He has served on NIH Study Sections as a regular and ad hoc member, and is on the Editorial Boards for Chemistry & Biology and Bioorganic Chemistry. He was cochair and cofounder of the Bioorganic Chemistry Gordon Conference and has served as an at-large member on the governing Council of the Gordon Research Conferences. He has advised the Office of Technology Assessment, the American Chemical Society and the National Institutes of Health, and he has served as a consultant for large and small pharma.