Prof. Joseph P. A. Harrity

Joe Harrity

Professor of Synthetic Organic Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
The University of Sheffield
Brook Hill
Sheffield S3 7HF
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 (0) 114 222 9496

Harrity Group Website

Biographical Sketch

Prof. Harrity obtained his BSc (Hons.) in Chemistry from the University of Strathclyde in 1991, followed by a PhD from the same institution in 1994. He was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Boston College, USA from 1994 to 1997, after which he became a Lecturer at the University of Sheffield. Here he was promoted to Senior Lecturer and Reader. He was promoted to Professor in 2009. In October 2012, Prof. Harrity was appointed to a 3 year Royal Society Industry Fellowship to undertake a collaboration with Peakdale Molecular. During this time, he worked with Peakdale to develop novel functionalised intermediates on commercially relevant scales, thereby introducing new scaffolds into their catalogue portfolio.


  • Pfizer Discovery Award (2004)
  • AstraZeneca Research Award (2006)
  • Royal Society Industry Fellowship (2012-2015)
  • RSC Bader Award (2018)

Research Keywords

Organometallic chemistry, carbon-carbon bond formation, asymmetric synthesis, catalysis, total synthesis.

Teaching Interests

Organic Chemistry


Research Harrity 1Synthesis provides the opportunity to design and prepare specific molecules whilst exploring novel processes that further develop the field of organic chemistry. In this context, our programme has concentrated on new and selective carbon-carbon bond forming strategies for the preparation of functionalised synthetic Intermediates. A summary of projects currently under investigation is outlined below:

Alkynylboronate Cycloadditions. Aromatic boronic acids and esters are extremely useful and versatile substrates in modern organic chemistry. We have developed a strategically novel approach to these compounds through cycloaddition reactions of alkynylboronates. To date, this approach has allowed us to generate boronic esters that are connected to benzene, quinone, pyridine, pyrazole, isoxazole and pyridazine scaffolds.

Research Harrity 2[3 + 3] Annelation Reactions. We have designed an efficient method for the synthesis of piperidines and pyrans by the addition of conjunctive reagents to aziridines and epoxides. Moreover, the ready availability of enantiopure aziridnes/epoxides has allowed to us to employ this technique in the stereoselective synthesis of alkaloid natural products, as well as bioactive compounds of marine origin.Research Harrity 2

Organocobalt complexes. A Lewis acid catalysed rearrangement reaction of cobalt-alkyne complexes bearing a cyclic enol ether unit has been developed that provides a direct and stereoselective route to 3-alkynylcycloalkanones. A catalytic variant of this process is currently under investigation as is its employment in target synthesis.


Undergraduate and postgraduate taught modules

  • Introduction to organic synthesis 2 (Level 2)
    This lecture course will discuss the α-functionalisation of carbonyl derivatives and related compounds. Specifically, alkylation and acylation reactions will be introduced and their applications in synthesis described. Simple examples highlighting chemoselective oxidation and reduction processes will also be discussed.
  • Aromatics in Synthesis (Level 3)
    This course explores the react
  • Stereoselective Synthesis (Level 4)
    This module gives a broad overview on current methods for controlling stereochemistry in organic synthesis. Key concepts in controlling relative and absolute stereochemistry will be introduced and illustrated.

Support Teaching:

  • Tutorials: Level 1 General Chemistry.

Laboratory Teaching:

  • Level 2 Organic Laboratories
  • Level 3 Organic Laboratories
  • Level 4 Research Project


Journal articles


  • Harrity J, Tazi-Ahnini R, Ward S, Cork M, Duff G & Bavik C () Aminoalkylimidazole Derivatives and their use in Medicine. Appl. 01 Jan 1970. RIS download Bibtex download