B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D. profile photo

B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D.

Floyd D. Gottwald Chair and Professor, Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering

Engineering West Hall, Room 403A, Richmond, VA, US

(804) 828-4799 bfgupton@vcu.edu

Professor Gupton's research is focused on the development of new technologies that will streamline organic synthesis








Image for vimeo videos on Going with the Flow: Flow Chemistry and Breaking Barriers to Innovation:Frank Gupton at TEDxRVA 2013



The Gupton research group is focused on the development and application of new technologies that will streamline organic synthesis through process intensification. The goal of process intensification is to increase the overall efficiency and selectivity of chemical reactions by using novel chemistry and/ or running reactions under more extreme process conditions (temperature and pressure). We are interested in applying these principals towards the development of new catalyst systems that can be used in concert with continuous chemical processing (flow reactor technology) to streamline the synthesis of pharmaceutical active ingredients (API’s).

We have developed a series of palladium catalyst systems that can be used in cross-coupling reactions for batch and continuous operations and we are currently using these catalysts in the preparation of several API target molecules. These catalysts are composed of metal nanoparticles supported on novel carbon-based platforms such as graphene or carbon nanotubes. Our group has direct access to a wide variety of surface characterization methodologies to characterize these materials which have provided fundamental insights into their unusual catalytic activity.

We are also actively involved in the evaluation and integration of continuous analytical methodologies with continuous chemical processing in order to provide real time feedback and optimization of our processes.

Industry Expertise

  • Education/Learning
  • Research

Areas of Expertise

Cross-Coupling CatalysisFlow Chemistry / Continual Chemical ProcessingOrganic Synthesis in Pharmaceutical Applications


Lifetime Achievement Award, Richmond Joint Engineers Council | professional


American Chemical Society Award for Industrial Innovation | professional


Hoechst Schultheis Fellow | professional


Merle E. Kise Award for Excellence in Industrial Research | professional

1989, 1990


Virginia Commonwealth University

Ph.D., Chemistry

Georgia Institute of Technology

M.S., Biochemistry

University of Richmond

B.S., Chemistry


  • American Chemical Society Organic Division : Member
  • Flow Chemistry Society : Member
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers : Member

Media Appearances

VCU receives $5 million Gates grant to find more cost-effective way to make HIV/AIDS drug

Richmond Times-Dispatch  print


The School of Engineering received about $5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create a more cost-effective way to manufacture Dolutegravir. It is the third such grant the foundation has awarded the school. The lead investigator, B. Frank Gupton, professor and chair in the VCU Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering, said the drug is likely to become a first-line therapy for HIV/AIDS.

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Point-of-Care Technologies: Pharmacy on Demand

VASEM Report  print


Ling noted that one of the applications he is particularly excited about is providing anti-retroviral therapies for Africans with HIV, a project he is exploring with colleagues at Virginia Commonwealth University. “The drugs could be delivered by drone to patients,” he said. The VCU team, led by Frank Gupton, chair of Chemical and Life Science Engineering, has been funded by the NSF, DARPA and the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation to develop flow chemistry methods that can reduce the cost of the ingredients for drugs needed to treat critical diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, and cancer.

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With New Funding, VCU Professor Continues Research to Lower the Cost of Drugs

WVTF / RadioIQ (NPR Affiliate)  radio


Frank Gupton used to work for a major pharmaceutical company, so he knows the ins and outs of making drugs. That means he also knows how, often, many drugs that were invented decades ago, could be created for far cheaper today. Gupton says you’d think manufacturer’s would take a look at that, but they don’t.

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What I Found Enlightening About ISPE's Annual Meeting

Life Science Leader  online


In his “second career,” professor Gupton has given TED talks and received grants totaling nearly $10 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The title of his talk was “Streamlining Pharmaceutical Processes: The ‘Medicines For All Initiative,’ a multidisciplinary project he is leading that seeks cheaper and more efficient ways to manufacture drugs.Gupton noted how the cost structure between a generic and patented drug is quite dramatic.

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From mapping brains to modeling diseases

Virginia Business  


B. Frank Gupton, chair of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering, is one of the state’s key innovators. He served on McAuliffe’s biosciences technology roundtable last year and recently helped form the Virginia Drug Development Consortium, a collaboration involving VCU, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. “We’re trying to take the innovations that are occurring at the different universities in drug discovery [and] move them down the pipeline and increase the intellectual property value of them,” he explains...

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AIDS Drug Nevirapine's Cost Reduced By Researchers



"We completed the first phase and we've gotten the chemistry to where it's probably the lowest-cost process you could imagine, using really cheap, inexpensive raw materials and streamlining the chemistry for the process," lead researcher B. Frank Gupton said in the study. "We've reported our results to the Gates Foundation and I believe that they were very pleased with our progress." ...

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Event Appearances

Streamlining Pharmaceutical Processes,

University of Richmond,  Richmond, VA.


The Medicines for All Initiative

SelectBio Flow Chemistry Congress  San Diego, CA.


A New Approach in Pharmaceutical Process Development

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University  Blacksburg, VA.


A New Low Cost Approach for the Production of AIDS Drugs

University of Mainz  Mainz, Germany


The Medicines for All Initiative

CPAC Annual Meeting  Rome, Italy



Production of graphene and nanoparticle catalysts supported on graphene using microwave radiation.


Production of Gupton_CV: 5/11 graphene and nanoparticle catalysts supported on graphene using microwave radiation


Improved process for preparation of 5,11-dihydro-11-ethyl-5-methyl-8-{2-{(1-oxido-4-quinolinyl)oxy}ethyl}-6H-di pyrido[3,2- b:2',3'-e][1,4]diazepin-6-one used as HIV-RT inhibitor


Research Grants

Collaborative Research Planning Grant: I/UCRC Center for Rational Catalyst Synthesis

National Science Foundation $ 11,500

April 2014 – Feb. 2015

Development of Asymmetric Heterogeneous Hydrogenation Catalysts

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. $ 50,000

June 2013 - Aug. 2014

Development of Reaction Conditions for Conversion of Artemisinic Acid to Dihydroartemisinic Acid

Clinton Health Access Initiative $ 24,000

May 2013 – Oct. 2014

Third Generation Nevirapine Process

Clinton Health Access Initiative $ Clinton Health Access Initiative

May 2012 – March 2013

High Throughput Continuous Synthesis of Strategic Anti- HIV Drug Substances

VCU Presidential Research Incentive Program Award $ 40,000

Jan. 2010 - Dec. 2010

Selected Articles

Highly efficient and magnetically recyclable graphene-supported Pd/Fe 3 O 4 nanoparticle catalysts for Suzuki and Heck cross-coupling reactions | Applied Catalysis A: General


Herein, we report a facile and efficient one-step method for the synthesis of highly active, Pd/Fe 3 O 4 nanoparticles supported on graphene nanosheets (Pd/Fe 3 O 4/G) that exhibit excellent catalytic activity for Suzuki and Heck coupling reactions and that can be ...

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Selective N-Chelation-Directed C–H Activation Reactions Catalyzed by Pd (II) Nanoparticles Supported on Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes | Organic letters


N-Chelation-directed C–H activation reactions that utilize the Pd (II)/Pd (IV) catalytic cycle have been previously reported. To date, these reactions employ only homogeneous palladium catalysts. The first use of a solid-supported Pd (II) catalyst [Pd (II) nanoparticles ...

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The continuous synthesis and application of graphene supported palladium nanoparticles: a highly effective catalyst for Suzuki-Miyaura cross-coupling reactions | Green Processing and Synthesis


An efficient, sustainable, and continuous method for the preparation of graphene supported palladium nanoparticles (Pd/G) has been developed using microwave irradiation as a heating source for the metal deposition process. The Pd/G produced from this method ...

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Microwave-assisted synthesis of Pd nanoparticles supported on Fe3O4, Co3O4, and Ni (OH) 2 nanoplates and catalysis application for CO oxidation | Journal of Nanoparticle Research


In this paper, we report a simple, versatile, and rapid method for the synthesis of Pd nanoparticle catalysts supported on Fe 3 O 4, Co 3 O 4, and Ni (OH) 2 nanoplates via microwave irradiation. The important advantage of microwave dielectric heating over ...

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Palladium nanoparticles supported on carbon nanotubes from solventless preparations: versatile catalysts for ligand-free Suzuki cross coupling reactions | Journal of Materials Chemistry


Palladium nanoparticles supported on single-or multi-walled carbon nanotubes (Pd/SWCNT and Pd/MWCNT) were prepared by a rapid, solventless method that does not require reducing agents or electric current. The method involves a straightforward process using ...

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