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Thieme-IUPAC Prize in Synthetic Organic Chemistry for 1996 Announced

Georg Thieme Verlag, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and the Editors of Synthesis, Synlett and Houben-Weyl are pleased to announce the recipient of the

Thieme-IUPAC Prize in Synthetic Organic Chemistry 1996

Eric N. Jacobsen

The Thieme-IUPAC Prize, consisting of DM 10 000, is awarded every two years on the occasion of the IUPAC International Conference on Organic Synthesis (ICOS) to a scientist under 40 years of age, whose research has had a major impact on the field of synthetic organic chemistry. The third Thieme-IUPAC Prize will be presented at an Award Talk on 2 July 1996 at the ICOS-II in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Eric Jacobsen was born on February 22, 1960 in Manhattan, USA. He was raised in New York City, and he obtained his B.S. degree from New York University in 1982. As an undergraduate, he carried out research in the laboratories of Yorke E. Rhodes. His Ph.D. work was done at University of California, Berkeley in the field of organometallic chemistry under the direction of Robert G. Bergman. In 1986, he returned to the East Coast for a National Institute of Health postdoctoral fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with K. Barry Sharpless, where he was one of the initiators of the asymmetric catalytic dihydroxylation project. In 1988, he took on a faculty position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he was promoted to associate professor in 1991. He moved to Harvard University as fill professor in the summer of 1993, and he currently directs a research group of 20 graduate students and postdocs at Harvard. He is also a consultant at Merck, Sepracor, and Versicor.

Eric Jacobsen has emerged as the best young chemist in the world working at the important frontier of designing/discovering selective catalysts for use in organic synthesis. He began his career at Illinois in spectacular fashion with his new process for the asymmetric epoxidation of unfunctionalized olefins. This was a major accomplishment for both conceptual reasons and, especially, for practical applications in synthesis. The Jacobsen catalyst, which was Fluka's reagent of the year in 1994, is a chiral, catalytically active transition metal complex. The reagent has allowed an easy access to a number of enantiomerically pure epoxides. A number of them have allowed expeditious synthesis of pharmacologically active products. One such example is the synthesis of the taxol side chain.

In Eric Jacobsen's brief time at Harvard, he has continued to be extremely productive in the area of asymmetric catalysis. This time, he has found a practical catalytic system for highly enantioselective ring openings of epoxides and aziridines. As with the Jacobsen epoxidation, this new process is so simple and efficient that it is essentially ready for immediate industrial applications. A recent synthetic example is the synthesis of a prostaglandin chiral building block. This asymmetric catalytic method represents an attractive alternative to enzyme-based procedures.

Eric Jacobsen is widely regarded as a most dedicated researcher and a fearless experimentalist. He is already perceived as a clear leader in the field of asymmetric catalysis, and we can expect many more exciting developments from his labs in the discovery and mechanistic elucidation of new reactions of practical value.

Eric Jacobsen has been the recipient of numerous awards including the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Packard Fellowship, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, the Cope Scholar Award, and the Fluka Prize.

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