Tuanli Yao has completed his PhD from Iowa State University and Post-doctoral studies from University of California, Berkeley. He worked as a Senior Scientist at Deciphera Pharmaceuticals and Associate Researcher at University of Kansas before beginning his career in academics. Currently, he is a Professor at Shaanxi University of Science and Technology. His research interests include aryne chemistry, electrophilic cyclization and palladium catalysis. He has published more than 30 papers in reputed journals.


Phenanthrenes are valuable skeletons found in numerous biologically active natural products and medicinal compounds. They are also a common structural motif in material science because of their unique photochemical and electroluminescent properties. A novel palladium-catalyzed annulation reaction of in situ generated arynes and o-halostyrenes has been developed, which affords moderate to excellent yields of substituted phenanthrenes and tolerate a variety of functional groups such as nitrile, ester, amide, and ketone. This annulation chemistry has been successfully applied to the formal total synthesis of a biologically active alkaloid (±)-tylophorine.