Read about Erik Sorensen, Ph.D., in the September 2008 issue.
Erik Sorensen never expected to become a chemist, but a high school injury ended his dreams of professional running. Now he focuses on a different kind of long-distance race—the slow, sometimes grueling process of making new chemicals from scratch.
Sorensen designs his molecules with inspiration from natural substances like snake venom or bacterial toxins. Then, through a series of chemical reactions, he transforms a soup of raw materials into chemical concoctions with the power to kill cancer cells or fight infection.