Faculty Directory

Contact Information

Life Sciences & Bioengineering Center, 3021
Phone: +1-508-831-5149
Fax: +1-508-831-4116

James P. Dittami

Prior to joining the faculty of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), I received a Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry under Arthur G. Schultz at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and did postdoctoral studies with E.J. Corey at Harvard University. I served as Head of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at WPI from 1995-2005.

The focus of my research has been the development of new synthetic methods, synthesis of natural products and design and synthesis of therapeutically active analogs. These efforts have been supported by agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and companies like Pfizer, Abbott and Pharmacia & Upjohn. In addition, we have attracted scores of Industry Sponsored Summer Undergraduate Research Programs. I have also been involved in externally funded outreach programs, involving dozens of WPI undergraduates, conducting hands-on science education in three elementary school districts: Quabbin Regional School District (QRSD), the Worcester Public Schools (WPS), and the Wachusett Regional School District (WRSD).

My professional services include membership on the advisory board for the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, conducting Departmental program review panels for area Universities, panel reviews for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) and membership on the Academic Programs Committee for the Food and Drug Law Institute in Washington, D.C. Instructional activities span both graduate and undergraduate levels in general, organic, instrumental and medicinal chemistry. I also teach graduate level courses at area companies on Introduction to Drug Regulation and Drug Safety and Regulatory Compliance and serve as administrator to WPI’s M.S. in Bioscience Administration.

In teaching, I seek to involve students in real world applications of what they are learning and often bring in practitioners from the field to provide perspective on the subject. Often, these courses are presented in a historical context so students can better appreciate how the field has evolved. All course materials are available to students electronically and with extensive resources, review notes, problems and course tools used, with permission, from resources both within and outside of WPI.

Research Interests

  • Organic Synthesis
  • Medicinal Chemistry
  • Natural Products


  • AB College of the Holy Cross, 1975
  • MS Boston College, 1978
  • PhD Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1983

Featured Publications

  • J.P. Dittami “Explorations of the Heteroatom Directed Photoarylation Reaction: A Review of the Photoinitiated Intramolecular Cycloaddition Reactions of Ylide Systems”, Journal of Photoscience, 2003, Vol. 10 (1), pp. 21-35.
  • James P. Dittami, Yalin Luo, David Moss, W. Grant McGimpsey; "Photochemistry of Aryl Vinyl Sulfides and Aryl Vinyl Ethers: Evidence for the Formation of Thiocarbonyl and Carbonyl Ylides" J. Org. Chem., 1996, 61, 6256-6260.
  • James P. Dittami, Feng Xu, Hua Qi, Matthew W. Martin*, Jon Bordner, Debra L. Decosta, Jeffrey Kiplinger, Philip Reiche, Richard Ware; "Photocyclization of 􀀀,􀀀-Unsaturated Amide Aldehydes Synthesis of Jatropham" Tet. Lett., 1995, 36, 4201
  • James P. Dittami, Xiao Yi Nie, Hong Nie, H. Ramanathan, C. Buntel*, S. Rigatti*, John Bordner, Debra L. Decosta, P. Williard; "Tandem Photocyclization Intramolecular Addition Reactions of Aryl Vinyl Sulfides. Observation of a Novel [2+2] Cycloaddition Allylic Sulfide Rearrangement" J. Org. Chem. 1992, 57, 1151.
  • James P. Dittami, Xiao Yi Nie, Hong Nie, H. Ramanathan, S. Breining*, John Bordner, Debra L. Decosta, Jeffrey Kiplinger; "Intramolecular Addition Reactions of Carbonyl Ylides Formed During Photocyclization of Aryl Vinyl Ethers" J. Org. Chem. 1991, 56, 5572.
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