Skip to main content

Chemical Name Reactions

Fundamental chemical reactions have often been named after their discoverers/developers. They represent a foundation in organic chemistry and help to set up complicated syntheses. As a contract manufacturer of "small organic molecules" and polymers, ChemCon is naturally involved in the development of syntheses and the transfer of syntheses from the laboratory to a larger scale (upscaling). These naming reactions, all of which have already been applied in ChemCon laboratories, are one of the chemical bases for our synthetic work.

A list of name reactions is given here, which is extended weekly. In this way, a reference work is developing that is not only intended to help students.

Osman Achmatowicz was born in Belarus on April 16, 1899. He finished school, including his high school diploma, in Saint Petersburg and studied afterwards at the Stefan Bathory University in Vilnius, where he also belonged to the oldest Polish student fraternity "Konvent Polonia".

He was elected both a member of the Polish Academy of Scholarship and a member of the Warsaw Scientific Society. In 1960, he received an honorary doctorate from the Łódź University of Technology.

The Achmatowicz reaction developed in 1971 was named after him.

In acyloin condensation, two esters react to form an acyloin. R1 and R2 are organyl radicals.

Mechanistically the 1st ester reacts with sodium, which enables the reaction, forming a radical anion. This anion reacts with the radical anion formed from the other ester to form a dianion. Cleavage of two alcoholate residues (R2O-) forms a diketone, which is reduced with excess sodium to form a dianion. This dianion is then hydrolyzed upon aqueous workup to the α-hydroxyketone, acyloin.

Charles Adolphe Wurtz and Alexander Porfyrech Borodin independently discovered this type of reaction at the end of the 19th century.

Charles Adolphe Wurtz was a French chemist and physician. He was born in Strasbourg in 1817. During his medicine studies, he became very interested in clinical chemistry. Wurtz went to Giessen to work for Justus Liebig for a year, then he returned to Paris. Wurtz was engaged in organic chemistry, especially organic nitrogen compounds. At the famous Sorbonne, Wurtz was the first professor of organic chemistry. The Wurtz-Fittig synthesis is another name reaction in which Charles Adolphe Wurtz collaborated.

Alexander Porfyrech Borodin was a Russian composer, professor of organic chemistry, and physician. Bordi was born in St. Petersburg in the early 19th century. Musical talent and a good musical education made him learn several instruments. In 1850 he began his studies in medicine and in 1859 in chemistry. Already at the age of 29, Borodin received a professorship in organic chemistry. Borodin also conducted research in the field of fluorine compounds.

Schematic figure Aldol Reaction and Aldol Condensation

Schematic figure Aldol Reaction and Aldol Condensation

Appel Reaction

Rolf Appel was born in Hamburg in 1921 and studied chemistry at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. He received his doctorate in 1951 from the chemist Margot-Becke-Goehring. After graduating, he took over a chemistry chair at the University of Bonn in 1962.

It was a great honor for him to receive the Liebig-Denkmünze in 1986. He has become known for the reaction named after him.

Friedrich Asinger was born in 1907 in Lower Austria. After completing his high school education in Krems an der Donau in 1924, he began his chemistry studies at the Technical University of Vienna. In 1932, he earned his doctorate with a thesis on the influence of substituents on the saponification rate of benzal chloride.

After various industrial positions, Asinger habilitated in 1943 at the University of Graz and became a lecturer at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in 1944. Due to connections with the NSDAP, he lost this position after the end of World War II. In 1946, he was deported to the Soviet Union with other scientists, where he worked as a group leader in the development of rocket propellants and discovered synthesis pathways for sulfur- and nitrogen-containing heterocycles.

Returning to Germany in 1954, Asinger accepted a call to Martin Luther University Halle (Saale) in 1957, and later to the Technical University of Dresden. During this time, he encouraged, among others, Becker to write the Organikum.

From 1959, Asinger led the Institute of Technical Chemistry and Petrochemistry at RWTH Aachen. Here, he further developed nitrogen-sulfur heterocycle chemistry, now known as Asinger Chemistry. An example is the thirteen-step synthesis of D-penicillamine, with the Asinger Synthesis as the starting reaction.

Through a reaction analogous to the Asinger Synthesis, 3-oxazolines can also be produced. However, the more significant oxazolines are the 2-oxazolines, which can be polymerized through cationic ring-opening polymerization. Depending on the chain length, degree of cross-linking, and attached functional groups, these polymers can exhibit various functionalities. Polymers from 2-oxazoline are termed Polyoxazolines.

ChemCon has been engaged in the synthesis of these polymers for many years and is capable of producing them according to customer specifications under GMP conditions. The company has synthesis and analytics experts and extensive experience in GMP and GMP documentation, as evidenced by inspections from the FDA and German authorities.

Schematic figure of Asinger reaction

Schematic figure of Asinger reaction

Adolf von Baeyer was born in Berlin in October 1835, the 5th of 7 children. After graduating high school at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Gymnasium, he studied mathematics and physics at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Berlin and chemistry at the Ruprecht-Karls-University in Heidelberg.

Adolf was a founding member of the "Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft" (German Chemical Society) in Berlin, which published the technical journal "Berichte der Deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft" (Reports of the German Chemical Society).

On his 50th birthday, he was raised to hereditary nobility by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and received the title "von".

The Bayer indole synthesis was discovered in 1869 by Adolf von Baeyer and Adolphe Emmerling.

In 1905, von Baeyer won the Nobel Prize for his work on organic dyes.

Victor Villiger was born in 1868 on Lake Zug in Switzerland. After leaving school, Villiger studied chemistry at the University of Geneva before being drafted into military service.

In 1890, he transferred to the University of Munich, where he later earned his doctorate with a thesis on Hexahydroisophthalic acid. It was at this time that he met his mentor Adolf von Baeyer at the university. The two worked together for 11 years and jointly developed the Baeyer-Villiger oxidation between 1899 and 1900.

Adolf von Baeyer was born in Berlin in October 1835, the 5th of 7 children. After graduating high school at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Gymnasium, he studied mathematics and physics at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Berlin and chemistry at the Ruprecht-Karls-University in Heidelberg.

Adolf was a founding member of the "Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft" (German Chemical Society) in Berlin, which published the technical journal "Berichte der Deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft" (Reports of the German Chemical Society).

On his 50th birthday, he was raised to hereditary nobility by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and received the title "von".

Günther Schiemann was born in Breslau in 1899. He attended the University of Breslau and obtained his Ph.D. in 1925 with a dissertation titled "On the Mechanism of Uric Acid Oxidation." Subsequently, he worked as a volunteer assistant at ETH Zurich under Hermann Staudinger until 1926. In 1926 and 1935, Schiemann served as an assistant and senior assistant at the Technical University of Hannover, where he also taught as a lecturer from 1929. He successfully accomplished the Balz-Schiemann synthesis for the first time in 1927. Due to his Jewish heritage, his employment was terminated in 1935, followed by the revocation of his lecturer position in 1937. Between 1935 and 1950, Schiemann worked in the private sector. In 1946, he became a part-time lecturer in Hannover, and in 1950 a professor at the University of Istanbul, where he headed the "Sinai Kimya Institute." In 1956, he returned as a professor to Hannover and led the Institute of Technical Chemistry there.

Nearly 20% of the 200 best-selling pharmaceutical ingredients of the year 2018 contained at least one aryl fluoride or a derivative thereof.

Schematic figure of Balz-Schiemann-Reaction

Schematic figure of Balz-Schiemann-Reaction

François Antoine Philippe Barbier, a name not as widely recognized outside the circles of chemistry, holds a pivotal place in the annals of scientific innovation. Born into the rigor of 19th-century France, Barbier's journey into the realm of chemistry was marked by an insatiable curiosity and an unwavering dedication to exploration. His work laid foundational stones for future discoveries, transcending the boundaries of his time and nurturing talents who would further revolutionize the world of science.

Barbier's academic voyage began with a robust education in the sciences, where he displayed remarkable acumen from an early age. His fervor for chemical research propelled him through the ranks of academia, culminating in a distinguished career as a chemist. His scholarly pursuits were characterized by a pioneering spirit, keen to explore the uncharted territories of chemical reactions and their myriad applications.

Among Barbier's numerous contributions to chemistry, the Barbier reaction stands as a testament to his ingenuity. This groundbreaking synthesis process, which facilitates the creation of secondary or tertiary alcohols from halogenated compounds, opened new avenues in the synthesis of complex organic molecules. The reaction's elegance lies in its simplicity and efficiency, characteristics that have made it a staple in organic synthesis laboratories around the world.

Perhaps one of Barbier's most enduring legacies is his influence on his students, among whom was Victor Grignard, a name synonymous with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Grignard, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1912, was a direct beneficiary of Barbier's mentorship. The Grignard reaction, an offshoot of Barbier's own research, further expanded the toolbox available to chemists, enabling the formation of carbon-carbon bonds in a manner previously thought to be impractical.

The relationship between Barbier and Grignard exemplifies the profound impact a mentor can have on the trajectory of scientific discovery. It was under Barbier's guidance that Grignard not only honed his skills but also developed the foundational ideas that would lead to his Nobel Prize-winning work. This mentor-mentee dynamic underscores the importance of academic lineage in the propagation of knowledge and innovation.

Barbier's life, filled with academic achievements and scientific breakthroughs, illuminates the path for future generations of chemists. His legacy, characterized by the Barbier reaction and his role in nurturing Nobel laureate talent, continues to resonate within the scientific community. Through his contributions, Barbier not only advanced the field of chemistry but also demonstrated the enduring value of mentorship and the collaborative spirit of scientific inquiry.

As we reflect on the storied career of François Antoine Philippe Barbier, it becomes evident that his work was not just about the molecules and reactions that bore his name but also about fostering a culture of curiosity and perseverance. His legacy, enshrined in the annals of chemistry, serves as a beacon for aspiring scientists, reminding us of the power of exploration and the endless possibilities that await those who dare to question and discover.

Schematic representation of the Barbier reaction

Schematic representation of the Barbier reaction

Derek H.R. Barton was a British chemist who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1969. He was born on September 8, 1918, in Gravesend, Kent, and studied at Imperial College of the University of London starting from 1938. After completing his studies, he worked as a chemist in a government program for two years. He then moved to Imperial College in Birmingham, where he worked as a lecturer for two years. From 1946 to 1949, he worked as a research scientist at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI). His career took a decisive turn when he began his visiting professorship at Harvard University (USA) in the Department of Natural Products Chemistry in 1949. Here he met the US scientist and chemist Robert B. Woodward. Both were connected by a lifelong scientific collaboration and close friendship. This marked the beginning of his groundbreaking scientific work on conformational analysis.

Barton also collaborated with the company Schering-Plough and worked on the topic of “aldosterone” at his research institute for medicine and chemistry in Cambridge. Here he discovered what is now known as the Barton reaction, a photochemical process that enables a relatively simple method for the synthesis of aldosterone. This was a great success of his research work. This led to almost 40 years of close practical relationships between medical research and the pharmaceutical industry.

Barton decarboxylation is a name reaction in organic chemistry. It allows organic residues to be cleaved from acid chlorides or carboxylic acids. 

Barton’s influence on modern pharmacy is enormous. His research work has contributed to making the synthesis of aldosterone and other steroids easier and more efficient today. His groundbreaking work on conformational analysis has also revolutionized the structure and synthesis of steroids. His discoveries have advanced pharmaceutical research and development and laid the foundation for many important drugs.

Schematic representation of the Barton decarboxylation

Schematic representation of the Barton decarboxylation

Antoine Béchamp was born in France in 1816, but went to Bucharest with his uncle when he was only seven years old. He began an apprenticeship as a pharmacist, which he finished a few years later in France. After he founded his own pharmacy, he worked also at the pharmacy school in the fields of chemistry, physics and toxicology. During this time he met the chemistry professor Louis Pasteur, to whom he dedicated his doctoral thesis in chemistry. Based on this work, he developed his Béchamp reduction in 1852, which contributed to the rise of the paint industry.

Arthur Birch was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1915. He studied at the University of Sydney, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1937 and a Master of Science degree in 1938. In 1940, he received his doctorate from the University of Oxford/UK. In 1952, Birch accepted a professorship in organic chemistry at the University of Sydney. In 1958, he moved to the UK again to take up a professorship at the University of Manchester. From 1967 to 1980, Birch was dean at the Australian National University of Canberra.

Birch's reduction made it possible to chemically synthesize a steroid for the first time, which is still of great importance to the pharmaceutical industry today.

The synthesis named after Hans Theodor Bucherer and Hermann Bergs, and the resulting hydantoins, have numerous practical applications in both the laboratory and industry. Bucherer completed his Abitur in Cologne and studied chemistry at the universities of Munich, Karlsruhe, and Leipzig. He completed his dissertation in 1893 under Johannes Wislicenus in Leipzig, titled 'On some derivatives of keto-hexene from the ketone of α Pimelic acid.' After a period at BASF, he became a private lecturer at the Dresden University of Technology in 1901, and in 1913, he accepted a position at the Berlin Institute of Technology. From 1926, he served as a professor of Chemical Technology at the Technical University of Munich. In addition to his academic roles, he was also active in the chemical industry from 1908 to 1916. Bucherer retired in 1935, and in 1944, he received the Goethe Medal for Art and Science.

In addition to the Bucherer-Bergs synthesis, he also discovered the Bucherer reaction, which allows the conversion of phenols and naphthols, among others, into the corresponding aromatic amines. Hydantoins find applications in various fields: for example in the production of Phenytoin which is used for the long-term treatment of epilepsy and arrhythmias They are also utilized in the manufacturing of sugar derivatives and serve as a precursor for amino acids such as methionine, of which several hundred thousand tons are produced annually.

Hydantoins are derivatives of imidazole. Another derivative is histamine, which can be obtained through the decarboxylation of the amino acid histidine. It is used as histamine dihydrochloride in Ceplene, which is a drug preventing the relapse of acute myeloid leukemia, or as a positive control in allergy tests.

Schematic figure of Bucherer-Bergs reaction

Schematic figure of Bucherer-Bergs reaction

Ludwig Rainer Claisen born January 14th 1851 in Cologne was a German chemist. He graduated school in 1869 in Cologne and studied chemistry in Bonn and Göttingen until 1871. Under Kekulé he finished his PhD in 1875 with a thesis about “Beiträge zur Kenntniss des Mesityloxyds und des Phorons“ (Contributions to the knowledge of the Mesityloxyd and the Phoron) and started being Kekulés assistant.

Three years later he habilitated and worked as a private lecturer. After some time at the Owens College in Manchester and in Munich he heeded the call to Aachen University, where he became ordinary for the chemistry department. In 1897 he moved to Kiel University where he retired in 1902 for health reasons. He did two more years of research in Berlin before he started his own laboratory.

He was a member of the “Bavarian Academy of Science” as well as an honorary member of the “German chemical society”. In 1881 he was elected as part of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. In the same year he discovered the “Claisen-condensation”. There is also some laboratory equipment named after him the “Claisenbrücke” and the “Claisenkolben”.

Schematic figure of the claisen condensation

Schematic figure of the claisen condensation

Ludwig Claisen was a German chemist born on January 14, 1851, in Cologne. He is best known for developing the Claisen rearrangement, a fundamental organic reaction that bears his name. Claisen studied chemistry at the University of Bonn and later at the University of Göttingen, where he completed his doctorate under the supervision of Friedrich Wöhler, one of the pioneers of organic chemistry.

Throughout his academic career, Claisen made significant contributions to the field of organic chemistry, including his work on ester condensation reactions—now known as Claisen condensations—which are crucial for forming carbon-carbon bonds in various synthetic procedures. His research greatly expanded the toolkit of synthetic organic chemistry, influencing the development of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and new materials.

Claisen held positions at several prestigious institutions, including the University of Berlin and the University of Kiel. His work laid foundational principles that have been pivotal in the advancement of synthetic methodologies in modern chemistry. The reactions he discovered and the techniques he developed continue to be integral in the synthesis of complex molecular architectures in academic and industrial settings worldwide. His legacy is not only marked by the reactions named after him but also by his role in training the next generation of chemists during his tenure as a professor.

Schematic representation of Claisen rearrangement

Schematic representation of Claisen rearrangement

Arthur C. Cope

...was a US-American chemist and professor of organic chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge.

He received his PhD with the topic “The synthesis of local anesthetics containing various phenylalkyl groups: Vinylethyl malonic ester and the cleavage of certain substituted malonic esters with sodium ethoxide” at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1932.

During World War II, he conducted a series of researches for chemical weapons, anti-malaria compounds and the treatment of mustard gas victims.

At the MIT, he headed the chemistry department starting in 1945. The preparative organic chemistry was one of his fields of work, especially elimination and condensation reactions. Due to this the cope rearrangement, Diaza Cope rearrangement and Cope elimination were named after him.

Elias James Corey is an American chemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1990 for his development of the theory and methodology of organic synthesis, particularly for his establishment of retrosynthesis.

Corey was born in Methuen, Massachusetts, in 1928, to Lebanese Christian parents. He studied chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1948 and his doctorate in 1951. From 1951 to 1959, he served as a professor at the University of Illinois, where he became a full professor at the age of 27. Since 1959, he has been a professor at Harvard University.

Throughout more than five decades, Corey conducted research in nearly all areas of organic chemistry and made significant contributions to biochemistry and modern medical science. He developed numerous synthesis methods and reagents, such as pyridinium chlorochromate and 1,3-dithiane as a protecting group for carbonyl compounds. He also explored organometallic chemistry, catalytic asymmetric reactions, and provided mechanistic insights into bond formation. He was the first to use computers for designing synthetic routes.

One of his most notable contributions is retrosynthesis, a logical method for planning the synthesis of complex organic molecules from simpler precursors. Retrosynthesis is based on the principle that a complex structure can be broken down into simpler parts by imagining how it could be formed through known reactions. These parts can then be further deconstructed until reaching readily available starting materials. Retrosynthesis is a powerful tool for the synthesis of natural products, pharmaceuticals, and other biologically active compounds.

Corey conducted several hundred total syntheses of natural products, including prostaglandins, steroids, antibiotics, and alkaloids. He also synthesized the antiviral drug Oseltamivir (Tamiflu), effective against influenza.

Corey is one of the most prolific and influential chemists of all time. He has published over 1000 scientific papers and received more than 70 scientific awards. Additionally, he has trained numerous industrial chemists as well as future professors and Nobel laureates, such as Ryoji Noyori and Bengt Ingemar Samuelsson.

Schematic figure of Corey-Itsuno Reduction

Schematic figure of Corey-Itsuno Reduction

Elias James Corey: A Chemist Who Changed the World

Elias James Corey was born on July 12, 1928, in Methuen, Massachusetts. He is an American chemist and Nobel laureate. Corey is an emeritus professor at Harvard University. His research over five decades spans nearly all areas of organic chemistry and has had a profound impact on biochemistry and modern medical science.

Academic Career

Corey received his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Harvard University in 1950. He then earned his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under John C. Sheehan. After his Ph.D., Corey worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) under Robert Burns Woodward.

In 1954, Corey returned to Harvard University, where he was awarded a professorship in organic chemistry. He remained at Harvard University until his retirement in 2000.

Scientific Achievements

Corey has made numerous significant contributions to organic chemistry throughout his career. His most notable achievements include:

  • The development of new synthesis methods for complex natural products, including steroids, terpenes, and alkaloids.
  • The investigation of the mechanisms of organic reactions.
  • The development of new molecular catalysts.

Corey's work has helped to deepen our understanding of organic reactions and open new pathways for the synthesis of complex molecules. It has also had important implications for biochemistry and modern medical science.

Corey-Ghanem Oxidation

The Corey-Ghanem oxidation is an important synthesis method for the oxidation of alcohols to ketones or aldehydes. The reaction was developed in 1967 by Elias James Corey and his student Samir A. Ghanem.

The Corey-Ghanem oxidation proceeds in two steps. In the first step, the alcohol is oxidized with a strong oxidizing agent, such as chromium trioxide. In the second step, the resulting ketone or aldehyde is reduced with a reducing agent, such as ammonia.

The Corey-Ghanem oxidation is a versatile and efficient synthesis method that can be applied to a variety of alcohols. It is particularly useful for the oxidation of sensitive alcohols that are not stable with other oxidation methods.


Corey has received numerous awards for his scientific achievements throughout his career. His most notable awards include:

  • The Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1990
  • The National Medal of Science in 1985
  • The Copley Medal of the Royal Society in 1998

Corey is one of the most important chemists of the 20th century. His work has revolutionized organic chemistry and has had important implications for biochemistry and modern medical science.

Schematic figure of Corey-Ganem-oxidation

Schematic figure of Corey-Ganem-oxidation

Otto Paul Hermann Diels and Kurt Alder:

Diels was born in Hamburg and moved with his family to Berlin, where he studied chemistry. He remained at the University of Berlin until 1915, when he accepted a position at the University of Kiel, where he remained until his retirement in 1945. It was during his time at Kiel, where he worked with Kurt Alder developing the Diels–Alder reaction.
Alder was born in the industrial area of Königshütte, Silesia. When Königshütte became a port of Poland he moved to Berlin. He made his PhD in Kiel where he met Mr. Diels. Alder received several honorary degrees and other awards, such as the 1950 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which he shared with his teacher Diels for their work on the Diels–Alder reaction.

Schematic figure of Diels-Alder 4+2 cycloaddition

Schematic figure of Diels-Alder 4+2 cycloaddition

1850 Friedel studied science in Strasbourg and, after an interruption; he continued his studies at Sorbonne in 1852. From 1856 to 1870, he worked as curator of the mineral collection of the École des Mines. During this time, he deepened his chemical knowledge under Charles Adolphe Wurtz in the laboratory of the École de médecine. In 1861, Charles Friedel and James Mason Crafts met here. After James earned a Bachelor of Science degree (1858), further studies took him to the Freiberg Mining Academy in 1859, to the University of Heidelberg in 1860 and to the École de Médecine in Paris in 1861. In 1877, they discovered the catalytic effect of aluminum chloride in reactions of aromatics with alkyl halides, today known as Friedel-Crafts reactions.This is a fundamental reaction that every chemist learns and which is also carried out in the ChemCon laboratories.

Tohru Fukuyama is a distinguished figure in the realm of organic chemistry, celebrated for his pioneering research and the development of innovative synthetic methods, most notably the Fukuyama amine synthesis. This method revolutionized the synthesis of secondary amines, providing a novel pathway through nosyl amides and employing thiolate-induced elimination to achieve this transformation. Beyond its technical merits, the Fukuyama amine synthesis has broadened the horizons for the synthesis of polyamides and has been instrumental in enhancing solid-phase synthesis techniques. Solid-phase synthesis can be used to produce bio polymers. Fukuyama's academic journey is marked by numerous achievements, including impactful publications and the mentorship of the next generation of chemists. His work has significantly contributed to the advancement of pharmaceuticals and materials science, showcasing his profound influence on both academic research and practical applications in chemical synthesis.

Schematic representation of the Fukuyama amine synthesis

Schematic representation of the Fukuyama amine synthesis

Sigmund Gabriel was born in Berlin on November 7th 1851. He studied and completed his doctorate in Heidelberg under Robert Wilhelm Bunsen until 1874. He was a professor at Berlin University until 1921, where he investigated organic nitrogen compounds. In 1887, he developed the Gabriel synthesis named after him for the synthesis of primary alkylamines. In 1888, he was also elected a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

The reaction is a pure laboratory process due to poor atom economy. The synthesis of primary amines from haloalkanes and ammonia is not possible as amines of other alkylation stages are formed. One example of a secondary amine is piperidine, which was first isolated by the Danish chemist Hans Christian Ørsted.

Schematic figure of the Gabriel synthesis

Schematic figure of the Gabriel synthesis

Victor Grignard:

Failed entrance exams for mathematics – Served in the military - Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry
Although he initially failed the entrance exam, he tried again after a year in the military and was successful. This was not enough for him and he switched to chemistry.
Due to Dr. Grignard, who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1912 (together with Mr. Paul Sabatier), it is nowadays possible to perform syntheses with advanced methods in organic chemistry.
Grignard published around 170 scientific articles about his work and worked on a large chemical encyclopedia in French until his death.
Even if he faced a challenge at the beginning, he never gave up.

Schematic figure of Grignar Reaction

Schematic figure of Grignar Reaction

August Wilhelm Hofmann (from 1888 "von Hofmann") was born in Giessen in 1818. He matriculated in 1836 at what is now Justus Liebig University in Giessen; initially for law, but later for chemistry under Justus Liebig. In 1841 he received his doctorate under Liebig with a thesis on the "Chemical Investigation of Organic Bases in Coal Tar ".

In 1845, the "Royal College of Chemistry" in London was founded with Hofmann as its first director. After the death of Prince Albert, the support of the British industry decreased; so Hofmann decided to accept a call to Berlin University as a professor. He taught inorganic and organic chemistry, wrote a textbook and developed the Hofmann voltameter.

Together with Nobel Prize winner Adolf Bayer, among others, he founded the "Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft" (German Chemical Society); the predecessor association to the "Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker" (GDCh).

The Hofmann elimination is a relevant mechanism in anesthesiology with regard to the inactivation of certain muscle relaxants.

Schematic representation of the Hofmann elimination

Schematic representation of the Hofmann elimination

James Irvin significantly contributed to chemistry, notably through the Irvine-Purdie methylation technique. His journey in chemistry began with a strong academic foundation, leading him to pursue higher education and eventually a PhD. It was during his postgraduate studies that he, alongside his colleague Purdie, developed this methylation method, which has since become a valuable tool in synthetic chemistry.

The technique itself is acclaimed for its efficiency and precision in introducing methyl groups to compounds, making it advantageous in pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and other chemical industries. This method has particularly impacted drug development, enabling the creation of more effective pharmaceuticals with fewer side effects, and it has improved agrochemical products by making them safer and more efficient.

Irvin's contributions extend beyond his scientific achievements; he has also been a mentor to many in the field, influencing the next generation of chemists. The Irvine-Purdie methylation continues to be a critical tool in chemistry and industry, underlining Irvin's lasting impact on the field.

Schematic representation of the Irvine-Purdie methylation

Schematic representation of the Irvine-Purdie methylation

In the realm of organic chemistry, Eric Jacobsen emerges as a distinguished figure, renowned for his pioneering research in asymmetric catalysis. His career, spanning several decades, is marked by significant contributions that have profoundly influenced modern chemistry, particularly through his work on Jacobsen epoxidation.

Born in the United States, Jacobsen's early fascination with chemistry propelled him towards pursuing an education in the field, culminating in a Ph.D. from Harvard University. His initial work laid the groundwork for a career characterized by innovation and discovery.

Upon completing his doctorate, Jacobsen joined the faculty of prestigious institutions, notably Harvard University, where he has been recognized with numerous awards and honors for his contributions to chemistry. These accolades reflect his work in catalysis and organic synthesis. His collaboration with Nobel Laureate Barry Sharpless stands out, merging Jacobsen's catalysis expertise with Sharpless's asymmetric synthesis knowledge to advance organic chemistry. This partnership underscores Jacobsen's potential for future Nobel recognition, highlighting the impact of collaborative innovation on scientific progress.

Jacobsen is best known for the Jacobsen epoxidation, a method for the enantioselective epoxidation of unfunctionalized olefins, utilizing chiral catalysts developed by his team. This breakthrough has significant implications, especially in pharmaceuticals, where enantiomerically pure compounds are crucial.

Beyond the Jacobsen epoxidation, his research encompasses a broad range of topics within asymmetric catalysis, including the development of novel catalytic systems and new synthetic pathways. Jacobsen's approach to research is defined by a deep understanding of chemical mechanisms, innovative problem-solving, and a dedication to advancing organic chemistry.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry honors individuals whose scientific achievements have bestowed the greatest benefit to humankind. Eric Jacobsen's contributions, particularly in asymmetric catalysis and the Jacobsen epoxidation, make him a strong contender for this prestigious award. His work has not only pushed the boundaries of scientific knowledge but also found practical applications in drug development and manufacturing, benefiting society at large.

Jacobsen's journey in chemistry is marked by a relentless pursuit of knowledge and groundbreaking discoveries. His contributions have left an enduring mark on the field, and the scientific community's ongoing recognition and expansion of his work suggest the growing plausibility of Jacobsen receiving a Nobel Prize, celebrating a career that has significantly advanced our understanding of chemistry.

Schematic figure of the Jacobsen epoxidation

Schematic figure of the Jacobsen epoxidation

Henry Gilman (1911–1986), an eminent American chemist, is celebrated as the father of organometallic chemistry. Born on December 1, 1911, in Boston, Massachusetts, Gilman's academic journey led him to a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1935 under the guidance of E.C. Kendall.

His illustrious career included academic positions at institutions such as Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and Iowa State College. Gilman's groundbreaking contributions to organometallic chemistry established him as a key figure in the field.

One of his most notable achievements was the development of the Gilman reagent—a lithium or copper organocuprate compound widely utilized in organic synthesis for forming carbon-carbon bonds. His research delved into the synthesis, structure, and reactivity of compounds containing metal-carbon bonds, contributing significantly to the understanding of metalation reactions, where a metal replaces a hydrogen atom in an organic molecule.

Henry Gilman's legacy extends beyond his innovative methodologies. He received prestigious accolades for his work, including the Priestley Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the American Chemical Society (ACS). He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and recognized as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Gilman also held membership in the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The enduring impact of Gilman's contributions is reflected in the continued use of the Gilman reagent and related reactions in organic synthesis. His dedication to advancing organometallic chemistry has left an indelible mark, making him a revered figure in the scientific community and securing his place as a pioneer in the realm of chemistry.

Schematic representation of the Ketone synthesis by Gilman and van Ess

Schematic representation of the Ketone synthesis by Gilman and van Ess

Heinrich Emil Albert Knoevenagel...

..., born in Hannover, was a German chemist.

After studies in Hannover and Göttigen he got his PhD In 1889. Knoevenagel followed Victor Meyer to Heidelberg and became his assistant there.  He habilitated in Heidelberg in 1892 with the topic of "asymmetric carbon". Emil Knoevenagel works at the University of Heidelberg as a Professor and works on nitrogen-heterocycles compounds. The preparation of unsaturated carbonyl compounds is named after him as the Knoevenagel reaction. A special example of Aldol condensation.

Schematic figure of Knövenagel Reaction

Schematic figure of Knövenagel Reaction

Ludwig Knorr's journey into the annals of organic chemistry is a narrative of intellectual pursuit, mentorship, and groundbreaking discoveries that have left a lasting imprint on the field. Born in Munich, Bavaria, on December 2, 1859, Knorr's early academic inclinations led him towards the study of medicine. However, it was chemistry that captured his heart and redirected his path towards becoming one of the most influential organic chemists of his time.

Knorr's academic odyssey took a definitive turn when he enrolled at the University of Erlangen. It was here that he came under the tutelage of Emil Fischer, a name synonymous with organic chemistry and its profound developments during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Fischer, who would later be awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1902 for his work on sugar and purine syntheses, served as Knorr's doctoral advisor. This mentorship was pivotal, placing Knorr at the forefront of organic chemistry research.

Under Fischer's guidance, Knorr embarked on his doctoral research, which culminated in the development of the Knorr synthesis of pyrrole, a fundamental building block in organic synthesis. His work laid the groundwork for synthesizing pyrrole derivatives, crucial in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, dyes, and agrochemicals. This achievement was a testament to the influence Fischer had on Knorr, instilling in him a rigorous approach to research and an innovative spirit that would characterize his entire career.

Perhaps the most celebrated of Knorr's contributions is the development of the Knorr quinoline synthesis. This elegant chemical reaction involves the condensation of aniline with β-keto esters to form quinoline or its derivatives, compounds of significant importance in the pharmaceutical industry due to their therapeutic properties. The Knorr quinoline synthesis not only highlighted his genius in organic synthesis but also underscored the impact of his work on practical applications, particularly in medicine.

Throughout his career, Ludwig Knorr was honored with numerous accolades, reflecting his pivotal role in advancing organic chemistry. Yet, it was his collaboration and intellectual kinship with Emil Fischer that perhaps most profoundly shaped his approach to science. Fischer's mentorship provided Knorr with a solid foundation in the principles of organic chemistry, which he built upon to achieve his remarkable scientific contributions.

Knorr's legacy extends beyond his chemical syntheses; it lies in his ability to merge theoretical chemistry with practical applications, influencing subsequent generations of chemists. His work continues to be a cornerstone in the fields of pharmaceuticals and organic synthesis, embodying the enduring impact of a scientist whose pursuit of knowledge was matched by his contributions to humanity's well-being.

Schematic representation of the Knorr quinoline synthesis

Schematic representation of the Knorr quinoline synthesis

Hermann Kolbe was born in Elliehausen in 1818. In 1838 he passed his Abitur in Göttingen and began his chemistry studies at the Georg-August University. From 1842 he became an assistant to Robert Wilhelm Bunsen in Marburg. He completed his doctorate in autumn 1843 with the thesis "Ueber die Produkte der Einwirkung des Chlors auf Schwefelkohlenstoff". From 1845 to 1847 Kolbe was assistant to Lyon Playfair at the University of London. During his time in London, he discovered with Edward Frankland the mode of preparation of carboxylic acids from nitriles. At the same time, Kolbe also found a way to prepare dimerised alkanes using electrolysis of carboxylic acids. In 1851 he became Bunsen's successor at the University of Marburg. He became a full professor at the University of Leipzig in 1865. Here the "Chemical Institute of the University of Leipzig" was built according to his plans in 1868.

The Kolbe-Schmitt reaction was particularly significant for medicine. Salicylic acid, especially its derivative acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), is an active ingredient that relieves fever and pain, among other things.

ASA has been on the WHO's list of essential medicines since 1977. The active ingredient has been marketed in various products since the beginning of the 20th century.

Schematic figure of Kolbe-Schmitt reaction

Schematic figure of Kolbe-Schmitt reaction

Carl Ulrich Franz Mannich was born in Breslau in 1877. He began his pharmacy studies in Marburg and Berlin in 1898. In 1903, he earned his doctorate in Basel and became a habilitated lecturer in Berlin in 1907. From 1911 to 1917, he taught pharmaceutical chemistry in Göttingen. In 1920, he moved to Frankfurt am Main. Afterward, Mannich served as a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin and simultaneously as the director of the pharmaceutical institute until 1943. In 1946, he took over the chair of pharmaceutical chemistry at what is now the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

From 1932 to 1934, he was the president of the "Deutsche Pharmazeutische Gesellschaft" (German Pharmaceutical Society), which has been awarding the Carl Mannich Medal for "outstanding achievements in the field of scientific pharmacy" since 1959.

The Mannich Reaction is applied in the synthesis of natural substances, the production of pharmaceuticals, and plant protection agents, as well as in the fields of paint and polymer chemistry.

At ChemCon, as a Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO), we have over 25 years of experience in the development and manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) under the highest Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) conditions. Our portfolio includes active ingredients used in cancer therapy, ophthalmology, and for treating rare diseases (orphan diseases).

In addition to contract development, ChemCon has established a renowned laboratory for contract analytics, operating in accordance with GMP and ICH guidelines, as well as pharmacopeia standards such as the European Pharmacopoeia.

For several years now, we synthesize polymers, particularly Polyethylenimines (PEI) and Polyoxazolines (PxOx), in our labs. These substances can be used in the pharmaceutical industry as reagents for nucleic acid separation, and PEIs are also used as transfection agents. To be used as excipients in medications, they must be manufactured according to GMP, an area in which ChemCon has extensive experience.

Schematic figure of Mannich Reaction

Schematic figure of Mannich Reaction

Arthur Michael...

... was an American chemist who never actually graduated the university. He acquired his knowledge of chemistry through to local teachers in his private laboratory, as he was unable to study at Harvard due to illness. He acquired further knowledge by visiting well-known chemists when he traveled to Europe. At Tufts College, he met his wife and worked as a professor of chemistry. In 1912, he went to Harvard University, where he served as a professor without lecture duties until 1936, despite the fact that he never earned a university degree.  Nowadays, Arthur Michael is mainly known for the Michael Addition, which is named after him.

Hans von Pechmann, born on April 1, 1850, in Mülhausen, Alsace, was a pioneering figure in the field of organic chemistry. His journey in science began with his studies at the University of Munich under the mentorship of Adolf von Baeyer, where he developed a profound interest in the synthesis of organic compounds.

Pechmann's contributions to chemistry are numerous, with his development of the Pechmann condensation reaction being among the most notable. This reaction, which synthesizes coumarins from phenols and β-keto esters in the presence of acids, has opened new pathways in the synthesis of natural products and heterocyclic compounds, crucial for pharmaceuticals and dyes.

Another significant achievement of Pechmann was the discovery of Polyethylene in 1898, a result of his experiments with diazomethane. This discovery laid the foundation for the development of plastics, revolutionizing industries from packaging to telecommunications. Nowadays, polymers are extensively used for pharmaceutical applications, including the production of medicines where Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) grade polymers serve as excipients, enhancing the stability, efficacy, and delivery of active pharmaceutical ingredients. Their durability and flexibility have made polymers indispensable in the modern world.

Pechmann's work did not just contribute to the advancement of chemical synthesis and polymer science; it also inspired future generations of chemists. Despite passing away on April 19, 1902, his legacy lives on through the Pechmann reaction and the widespread use of polymers, underscoring the impact of his innovations on modern life and the field of chemistry.

Schematic figure of the Pechmann condensation

Schematic figure of the Pechmann condensation

Sir William Henry Perkin, born on March 12, 1838, in London, was a renowned chemist whose accidental discovery revolutionized the textile industry and left an indelible mark on the world of science.

Perkin's journey into chemistry began at an early age when he showed a keen interest in science. He pursued his academic endeavors at the Royal College of Chemistry under the mentorship of August Wilhelm von Hofmann, a distinguished chemist of his time.

In 1856, while attempting to synthesize quinine, a drug for treating malaria, Perkin stumbled upon an unexpected breakthrough. Instead of quinine, he discovered a vibrant purple dye, later named "mauveine" or "mauve." This accidental creation proved to be a game-changer in the textile industry, offering a cost-effective alternative to natural dyes and sparking a revolution in color.

Recognizing the commercial potential of his discovery, Perkin founded a chemical manufacturing company to produce synthetic dyes on an industrial scale. His entrepreneurial spirit and scientific prowess propelled him to great success, making him a leading figure in the chemical industry.

Perkin's contributions extended beyond the discovery of mauveine. He continued to innovate, introducing a range of synthetic dyes that transformed the fashion industry and found applications in printing and photography.

In addition to his achievements in industry, Perkin's academic pursuits were equally remarkable. His studies at the Royal College of Chemistry laid the groundwork for his groundbreaking research, and his mentorship under Hofmann nurtured his passion for chemistry.

Perkin's legacy endures as a testament to the power of scientific curiosity and innovation. His accidental discovery of mauveine not only revolutionized the textile industry but also reshaped the way we perceive color and creativity.

Knighted in 1906 for his contributions to chemistry, Sir William Henry Perkin remains a celebrated figure in the scientific community, his name synonymous with progress and ingenuity in the field of chemistry.

Schematic representation of the Perkin reaction

Schematic representation of the Perkin reaction

Bronisław Leonard Radziszewski was born in Warsaw in 1838. In 1855, he completed his secondary education in Warsaw and subsequently began studying natural sciences in Moscow. After his studies, in 1862, he became a natural science teacher at the III. Gymnasium in Warsaw. He actively participated in the January Uprising of 1863. After the uprising's failure, he left Poland to study chemistry under August Kekulé in Ghent between 1864 and 1867. He earned his doctorate in 1867 and then served as a chemistry assistant at the University of Leuven until 1870. After his time in Belgium, he returned to Poland and became the deputy professor of chemistry at the Technical Institute in Krakow. Additionally, he worked as a teacher at the secondary school. In 1872, he became a professor of general and pharmaceutical chemistry in Lwów, thus becoming the first Polish-speaking chemistry professor there. He also chaired the Department of Pharmacy and served as the director of the Chemical Institute. In 1874, he co-founded the Polish Society of Naturalists Copernicus. Starting from 1879, Radziszewski served as the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and, from 1882, as the Rector of the University of Lwów.

The Radziszewski synthesis is used to produce imidazoles. Imidazole is a structural element of the hormone histamine. Nowadays, histamine can also be synthetically produced by decarboxylation of the amino acid histidine. Histamine is used, among other things, in a medication for treating rare forms of leukemia and in allergy tests. To be used in medications, histamine must be produced under strict Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) conditions.

Schematic figure of Radziszewski synthesis

Schematic figure of Radziszewski synthesis

The Life and Legacy of Leopold Ružička: Pioneering the Frontiers of Chemistry

In the annals of scientific achievement, few have left an indelible mark as profound as Leopold Ružička, a visionary whose work not only advanced the field of chemistry but also laid the groundwork for countless innovations in medicine, perfumery, and beyond. Born on September 13, 1887, in Vukovar, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Croatia), Ružička's journey from a small town to the pinnacle of scientific recognition is a testament to the enduring power of curiosity and perseverance.

Early Life and Education

Ružička's academic path began at the Technical University of Karlsruhe, where he studied chemical engineering. However, it was his transition to the University of Zurich for his doctoral studies under the mentorship of Professor Hermann Staudinger that set the stage for his groundbreaking work. Staudinger, a Nobel Laureate himself, instilled in Ružička a passion for organic chemistry, particularly in the study of natural compounds.

Academic Achievements and Research

Ružička's career was distinguished by his pioneering research in the chemistry of natural substances. His early work involved the study of terpenes, a class of organic compounds found in essential oils and plant resins, which are crucial for the fragrance and flavoring industries. Ružička's investigations into the structure and synthesis of terpenes laid the foundation for modern organic synthesis, enabling chemists to create complex organic molecules in the lab.

Perhaps Ružička's most significant contribution was his research on the sex hormones. In the 1930s, he synthesized several important hormones, including testosterone and androsterone, which revolutionized the study of biochemistry and endocrinology. His work not only advanced our understanding of human biology but also had practical applications in medicine, such as in the treatment of hormonal imbalances and in the development of contraceptives.

Nobel Prize and Influence on Modern Chemistry

In recognition of his contributions to the study of organic compounds, Ružička was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1939 "for his work on polymethylenes and higher terpenes." This accolade was a culmination of years of meticulous research and innovation, highlighting his role in expanding the boundaries of organic chemistry.

Ružička's influence on modern chemistry extends beyond his Nobel Prize-winning work. He was a pioneer in the concept of chemical synthesis, demonstrating that it was possible to replicate and modify complex natural molecules in the laboratory. This principle has become a cornerstone of modern pharmaceutical chemistry, where synthesis plays a critical role in drug development.

Legacy and Impact

Beyond his scientific achievements, Ružička was also a mentor to future generations of chemists. As a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, he inspired countless students with his dedication to research and innovation. His legacy is not just in the molecules he discovered or synthesized, but also in the minds he shaped and the scientific community he helped foster.

Leopold Ružička's contributions to chemistry were transformative. By unraveling the complexities of organic molecules, he not only advanced the field of chemistry but also had a profound impact on medicine, industry, and agriculture. His work exemplifies the power of scientific inquiry to unlock the mysteries of the natural world and improve human life. As we continue to explore the frontiers of science, Ružička's pioneering spirit remains a guiding light, reminding us of the endless possibilities that await in the quest for knowledge.

Schematic representation of the Ružička Reaction

Schematic representation of the Ružička Reaction

Barry Sharpless studied at Darthmouth College. In 1968 he earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at Stanford University.

Together with William S. Knowles and Ryoji Noyori, Sharpless received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on stereoselective oxidation reactions in 2001. 21 years later, in 2022, he received his second Nobel Prize in Chemistry (for fundamental work in click chemistry) together with Carolyn Bertozzi and Morten Meldal. This makes him, besides Frederick Sanger, the only person who has been awarded with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry twice.

Akira Suzuki was born on September 12th 1930 in Mukawa, Hokkaidō prefecture, Japan.
In 1959 he received his doctorate from Hokkaidō University and became an assistant professor there two years later. From 1963 to 1965, he worked under Nobel Laureate Herbert Charles Brown at Purdue University as a postdoctoral fellow. From 1973, he worked as a professor at Japanese universities; first in the department of Applied Chemistry at Hokkaidō University, then at Okayama University and from 1995 at Kurashiki University. He also held visiting professorships at the University of Wales and Purdue University.

He conducted research in the field of organic chemistry, more specifically investigating organoboron compounds and their applications in synthesis and organometallic chemistry. With Brown he worked on hydroboration and organoborane-based organic radicals. He introduced organoboron compounds as carbanions into chemical synthesis. Later he focused on palladium catalyzed cross couplings of organoboron compounds and discovered the Suzuki Coupling.

For this discovery, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2010, together with
Ei-Ichi Negishi and Richard F. Heck.

In 2023 the Nobel Prize in chemistry went to Moungi Bawendi, Alexei Iwanowitsch Jekimow and Louis Brus. They discovered and developed quantum dots. These are of interest for multiple applications, such as:

  • Marker dyes
  • LEDs
  • Quantumdot lasers
  • Quantum computing
  • And many more!
Schematic representation of the Suzuki reaction

Schematic representation of the Suzuki reaction

Daniel Swern was a renowned American chemist who lived from 1916 to 1982. He gained prominence for his significant contributions to organic chemistry. One of his outstanding achievements is the development of the Swern oxidation, named after him. This named reaction, also known as the Swern rearrangement, enables the mild and selective oxidation of secondary alcohols to ketones without affecting primary alcohols. The Swern oxidation is widely employed in organic synthesis worldwide and has proven to be an extremely useful tool for converting alcohols to ketones without the need for strong oxidizing conditions.

Daniel Swern's dedication to research and his innovative contributions to organic chemistry have allowed his influence to persist beyond his death. The Swern oxidation has become an integral part of the toolkit for organic chemists who synthesize complex molecules while delicately manipulating sensitive structures. Swern's legacy lives on not only in his own academic career but also in the daily work of chemists globally who benefit from his developments.

The Swern reaction finds application in the following areas:

  •  Pharmaceutical Industry: In the production of pharmaceutical active ingredients, alcohols can be converted to ketone structures through Swern oxidation. This can be a crucial step in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals.
  • Fine Chemicals Production: In the production of fine chemicals used in various industries, the Swern reaction can be employed to generate specific ketone structures.
  • Aroma Chemicals: In the aroma chemicals industry, particularly in the production of fragrances and flavorings, Swern oxidation can play a role in the synthesis of certain molecules.
  • Materials Science: In some cases, Swern oxidation is also utilized in the production of polymers and other materials where specific ketone groups need to be introduced.
Schematic figure of Swern oxidation

Schematic figure of Swern oxidation

Frederick Nye Tebbe…

… was an organometallic chemist who published the so called Tebbe’s reagent which is usable to introduce a methylen group instead of a carbonyl functionality.
Tebbe was born in Oakland, California. He studied chemistry and received a bachelor's degree at Pennsylvania State University.

After the chemistry studies he went at Montana State University studying psychology and philosophy for a year. In 1965 he was hired by DuPont Central Research Department, where he developed Tebbe’s reagent which was named in that way by Robert Grubbs (Nobel Prize 2005).

Alfred Einhorn: A Pioneer of Chemistry and the Tscherniak-Einhorn Reaction

In the annals of chemistry, there are names whose groundbreaking discoveries and contributions to science have secured their places in history. Alfred Einhorn is undoubtedly one of these towering figures. His work has not only enriched the field of organic chemistry but has also significantly influenced practical applications in medicine and pharmacology. This post is dedicated to the life and legacy of Alfred Einhorn, focusing particularly on his renowned Tscherniak-Einhorn reaction.

Life and Academic Career

Born on February 27, 1856, in Hamburg, Alfred Einhorn's academic journey into the world of chemistry began at the University of Munich, where he studied under Adolf von Baeyer, one of the most eminent chemists of his time. Einhorn's scientific curiosity and his profound understanding of organic compounds led to numerous discoveries that defined his career.

Influential Contributions to Chemistry

Einhorn's research interests were diverse, yet his work in the field of local anesthetics stands out. His most famous contribution to chemistry and medicine was the synthesis of procaine in 1905, better known by its trade name Novocain. This discovery revolutionized surgical medicine by providing an effective and less toxic alternative to the local anesthetics used at the time.

The Tscherniak-Einhorn Reaction

Another significant achievement of Einhorn's was the development of the Tscherniak-Einhorn reaction, named after him and his colleague Tscherniak. This chemical reaction expanded the understanding of organic compound synthesis and had a profound impact on organic chemistry. The Tscherniak-Einhorn reaction facilitates the synthesis of α-hydroxyphosphonates, which play a crucial role as key intermediates in organic synthesis and pharmaceutical development.

Collaboration and Influence

Alfred Einhorn's work was characterized by collaboration with other scientists and by his ambition to push the boundaries of chemical knowledge of his time. His influence on subsequent generations of chemists and his contributions to organic synthesis and pharmaceutical chemistry are immeasurable. His research laid the foundation for modern anesthesia methods and improved the quality of life for millions of patients worldwide.

Legacy and Modern Science

Alfred Einhorn's legacy extends far beyond his lifetime. The methods and compounds he developed continue to form the basis for scientific research and medical practice today. The Tscherniak-Einhorn reaction and the synthesis of Novocain are just two examples of Einhorn's groundbreaking work that have permanently transformed chemistry and medicine.


Alfred Einhorn was a visionary scientist whose curiosity and spirit of innovation expanded the boundaries of understanding in chemistry. His discoveries, especially the Tscherniak-Einhorn reaction and the synthesis of Novocain, have made him a key figure in the development of modern chemistry and pharmacology. His legacy lives on in every application of his research, a lasting testament to the power of science to improve human life.

Schematic representation of Tscherniak-Einhorn reaction

Schematic representation of Tscherniak-Einhorn reaction

Fritz Ullmann was a German chemist.

He studied at the University of Geneva, where he also received his PhD in 1895. At the Technische Hochschule Berlin he lectured technical chemistry from 1905 to 1913 as private lecturer and from 1922 to 1925 as an associated professor.

From 1914 to 1922, he published the first edition of the Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry in 12 volumes, under the name “Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry” a standard work that is still constantly updated.

He discovered some important preparative synthesis methods like the synthesis of diarylamines, synthesis of carbazoles and of course the Ullmann reaction, which we present you here.

Schematic figure of Ullramm Reaction

Schematic figure of Ullramm Reaction

Julius von Braun was a German chemist who was born in Warsaw on July 26, 1875 and died in Heidelberg on January 8, 1939. After passing his school-leaving examination at the humanistic grammar school in Warsaw in 1893, he studied chemistry at the University of Göttingen, the Royal Technical University of Charlottenburg and the University of Munich. In 1898, he obtained his doctorate under Nobel Prize winner Otto Wallach at the University of Göttingen.

Braun worked as an assistant at the Institute of Chemistry in Göttingen and became a private lecturer in 1902. In 1909 he became associate professor at the University of Breslau and later professor at the Berlin Agricultural College. In 1921, he moved to the University of Frankfurt am Main as a full professor of chemistry.

Braun researched the reactions of numerous alkaloids and synthesized organic compounds. He also discovered the Rosenmund-von Braun reaction and the Von Braun reaction. The latter is also known as the von Braun amide degradation reaction and is a named reaction in organic chemistry. This synthesis produces halogenoalkanes and nitriles.

Today, haloalkanes have a variety of applications, including as solvents, coolants, propellants, flame retardants and in medicine. However, the use of haloalkanes as propellants in medicine is controversial, as they can contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer.

Schematic figure of von braun amide degradation

Schematic figure of von braun amide degradation

Georg Friedrich Karl Wittig:

Wittig was a German chemist and Nobel Prize winner. Because of his family background, he was very talented artistically. He played the piano, composed and painted very well. However, his love was chemistry. Although he was drafted in the middle of his chemistry studies and became a prisoner of war, he continued his studies as soon as he was free.

By means of the Wittig reaction, carbon-carbon double bonds can be formed. This involves the use of a carbonyl compound and a phosphonium ylide, with the carbonly oxygen substituted for the carbon.

Schematic figure of Wittig Reaction

Schematic figure of Wittig Reaction

Karl Ziegler was a German chemist known for his contributions to polymer chemistry, organometallic chemistry, and homogeneous transition metal catalysis. He was born in Helsa in 1898 and studied chemistry at the University of Marburg, where he received his doctorate in 1920. He initially worked at I.G. Farben Industrie AG before embarking on an academic career. He was a professor at the universities of Frankfurt, Heidelberg, and Tübingen before taking over as director of the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in Mülheim an der Ruhr in 1943.

One of his most important scientific achievements was the discovery of the Ziegler-Natta catalyst, which makes it possible to produce polymers with a precise molecular structure. These polymers have improved properties and find diverse applications in the plastics industry. Ziegler also invented the Ziegler process for the production of fatty alcohols from ethene and triethylaluminium, which serve as raw materials for biodegradable detergents. In addition, he researched free radicals, alkali-organic compounds, ring-closing reactions, natural substances, and electrochemical phenomena.

For his outstanding achievements, Ziegler was awarded numerous honors, including the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1963, which he shared with Giulio Natta. He was also a co-founder and first president of the German Chemical Society (GDCh) and an honorary citizen of the city of Mülheim. He donated a large part of his fortune to promote chemical research and left behind a significant art collection. He died in 1973 at the age of 74.

Schematic figure of Wohl-Ziegler bromination

Schematic figure of Wohl-Ziegler bromination

Ludwig Wolff: A Pillar in Organic Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Innovation

In the annals of chemistry, few have left as indelible a mark as Ludwig Wolff, a German chemist whose work has resonated through the corridors of time, influencing not just academic circles but also the very fabric of the pharmaceutical industry. Born in the late 19th century, Wolff embarked on a journey that would see him delve into the complexities of organic chemistry, unearthing reactions and processes that bear his name and continue to be of paramount importance today.

Wolff's academic career was a testament to his brilliance and dedication. He was known for his rigorous approach to research and an insatiable curiosity that drove him to explore the intricate dance of atoms and molecules. His work was pioneering, laying the groundwork for future chemists to build upon. Among his numerous contributions, the Wolff rearrangement stands out as a beacon of his ingenuity.

The Wolff Rearrangement, a chemical reaction that involves the rearrangement of α-diazoketones to ketenes, is a cornerstone in synthetic organic chemistry. This process has become a vital tool for chemists, enabling the synthesis of complex molecules from simpler precursors. It's a testimony to Wolff's forward-thinking that his discovery has found applications far beyond what might have been imagined during his time, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry.

In today's pharmaceutical landscape, the Wolff rearrangement plays a critical role in the synthesis of various compounds, including antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. Its ability to efficiently create ketenes, which can be readily transformed into a plethora of functional groups, makes it invaluable in the design and development of new drugs. The flexibility and versatility offered by this rearrangement have enabled chemists to innovate and create more effective and targeted therapies, improving patient outcomes and contributing to the advancement of medicine.

Moreover, Wolff's influence extends beyond the confines of his own discoveries. His dedication to the pursuit of knowledge and his innovative thinking have inspired generations of chemists. He embodies the spirit of inquiry and resilience, reminding us that the quest for understanding requires not just intelligence but also imagination and perseverance.

The legacy of Ludwig Wolff is not just etched in the pages of chemistry textbooks but is alive in the laboratories where his work continues to inspire innovation. As the pharmaceutical industry evolves, the principles and processes he pioneered remain at the heart of drug development. His contributions serve as a foundation upon which new discoveries are made, demonstrating the enduring impact of his work on the health and well-being of society.

In conclusion, Ludwig Wolff's life and academic achievements are a testament to the profound influence one individual can have on the world. The Wolff rearrangement is a reminder of his genius, a gift to the realms of chemistry and medicine that has propelled the pharmaceutical industry into new frontiers. As we look to the future, Wolff's legacy serves as both a cornerstone and a beacon, guiding ongoing efforts to unravel the mysteries of chemistry and harness them for the betterment of humanity.

Schematic figure of Wolff rearrangement

Schematic figure of Wolff rearrangement

Charles Adolphe Wurtz, also known as Karl Adolph Wurtz, was born on November 26, 1817, in Strasbourg and died on May 12, 1884, in Paris. He was a French physician and chemist whose main area of study was the chemistry of hydrocarbons and organic nitrogen compounds.

Wurtz was the son of Jean Jacques Wurtz, a Protestant pastor in Strasbourg and Wolfisheim, where Charles Adolphe Wurtz spent his early youth. After attending the Protestant high school in Strasbourg in 1834, he began studying medicine with his father's consent. His interest in clinical chemistry led to his appointment as head of chemical work at the Strasbourg Medical Faculty in 1839.

Wurtz synthesized ethylamine and discovered glycol and phosphoroxychloride. Along with Rudolph Fittig, the Wurtz-Fittig synthesis was named, which produces hydrocarbons from halogen alkanes by the action of alkali metals.

After a year of study under Justus von Liebig in Giessen, he returned to Paris, where he worked in the laboratory of Jean-Baptiste Dumas. In 1845, he became Dumas' assistant at the École de Médicine de Paris, and four years later, he began lecturing on organic chemistry there.

Despite the modest equipment of his laboratory at the École de Médicine de Paris, he opened his own private laboratory in 1850 on Rue Garenciere. In the same year, he was appointed Professor of Chemistry at the newly opened Institut Agronomique in Versailles, which was closed again in 1852.

The following year, he took over the chair of Organic Chemistry at the Medical Faculty, which had become vacant due to the resignation of J.B.A. Dumas. In 1866, he took on the duties of dean at the Faculty of Medicine. In 1875, he retired from the office of dean, but retained the title of Honorary Dean.

Wurtz was an honorary member of almost all scientific societies in Europe. He was one of the founders of the Société Chimique de France (1858), where he was the first secretary and served three times as president. His work and influence on chemistry are still felt today, particularly through the Wurtz reaction named after him.

The ethylamine he discovered is used in the production of many herbicides, pesticides, and in the manufacture of rubber. Ethylene glycol is used in antifreeze and the production of polyester fibers.

Schematic figure of Wurtz reaction

Schematic figure of Wurtz reaction