Friday, August 19, 2016


Meet a Roadrunner: Doug Frantz is introducing UTSA students to synthetic chemistry

Doug Frantz

Doug Frantz

Share this Story

(May 27, 2015) -- Meet Doug Frantz. The Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Distinguished Professor in Chemistry was selected by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly & Co. to receive its Outstanding Open Innovation Drug Discovery Collaborator Award.

For the past five years, Frantz’s graduate and post-doctoral students have developed nearly 1,500 new chemical compounds. Under a collaborative agreement, Eli Lilly has studied the compounds for their potential as medicinal treatments.

“Every day, my students read 20 to 30 chemical journal articles and try to figure out what people have done in the past,” said Frantz. “We try to build on those findings, figure out ways to combine chemical reactions and set up conditions where two molecules can come together and create a new molecule.”

Two of the UTSA compounds Eli Lilly & Co. is considering could potentially treat schizophrenia and chronic pain.

“We signed a research agreement that is allowing UTSA students to do chemistry in their Indianapolis laboratories using robots that follow the instructions our students provide to their synthetic chemists,” said Frantz. “The robots run the compounds through various analytical tests and our students observe the tests on a computer screen in our laboratory.”

Frantz says that synthetic chemistry is not easy; it requires great patience as students learn the laborious process of trial and error. The students that take on the challenge, he says, make the best scientists across all disciplines.

“It’s a frustratingly lengthy process, and 99 times out of 100, the ideas don’t work. But that one time when they get that one reaction to work, the celebrations make it all worth it,” said Frantz.

Frantz joined UTSA in 2005 after serving on the faculty at UT Southwestern and as part of the research and development team at Merck and Co. He earned his doctoral degree in organic chemistry from Texas A&M University and his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches.

Do you know someone connected with UTSA who is achieving great things? Email us at, and we will consider your submission for an upcoming installment of Meet a Roadrunner.

Read the stories of other UTSA students, faculty, staff and alumni on the Meet a Roadrunner website.

Connect online with UTSA on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.



UTSA's Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA's Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA's Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

Connect with UTSA News


Related Links

Back to Top

©2018 The University of Texas at San Antonio  | One UTSA Circle San Antonio, TX 78249 | Information 210-458-4011

Produced by University Communications and Marketing