Negishi, Suzuki become Japan's 6th and 7th Nobel Prize winners in chemistry

12:38, October 07, 2010      

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Japan's Eiichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday for their work on reactions to create complex organic compounds, bringing the total number of Japanese who have earned Nobel Prizes to 18.

Negishi and Suzuki became the sixth and seventh Japanese Nobel Prize winners in the field of chemistry specifically and were lauded by Prime Minister Naoto Kan earlier in the day.

Kan said that on hearing the news he immediately called Suzuki, a professor emeritus at Hokkaido University and congratulated him on his achievement.

"Mr Suzuki then requested that the government make better use of Japan's science and technology capabilities, which are at the top of the global standard," said Kan, adding that he was delighted the two received the Nobel Chemistry Prize.

Suzuki, 80, and Negishi, 75, who is based at Purdue University of Indiana shared this year's chemistry prize with Richard Heck of the United States for pioneering research in linking carbon atoms.

Suzuki, a native of Hokkaido Prefecture, studied at Hokkaido University and after receiving his Ph.D. worked at the same university as an assistant professor.

From 1963 until 1965, Suzuki worked as a Postdoctoral Associate with Herbert Charles Brown at Purdue University and after returning to the University of Hokkaido he became a full professor there.

Suzuki became known in international chemistry circles in 1979 for publishing the Suzuki reaction -- the organic reaction of an aryl-or vinyl-boronic acid with an aryl-or vinyl-halide catalysed by a palladium(0) complex.

Negishi, a Japanese citizen born in China, joined Teijin Ltd. after graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1958. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1963.

In 1966, he also joined Brown's laboratory at Purdue as an Associate and began investigating various C--C bond forming reactions of organoboranes.

He was appointed Assistant to Professor Brown in 1968 and it was during the following few years that he began feeling the need for some catalytic ways of promoting organoborane reactions, Negishi said on his personal website.

Negishi was promoted to Associate Professor at Syracuse University in 1976 and invited back to Purdue University as Full Professor in 1979. In 1999 he was appointed the inaugural H. C. Brown Distinguished Professor of Chemistry.

Negishi has published over 400 publications including two books and has been awarded with numerous accolades for his work in his field and been cited in Marquis Who's Who in America and Marquis Who's Who in the World.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences commended the trio's work in "the development of palladium-catalysed cross coupling".

"In the Heck reaction, Negishi reaction and Suzuki reaction, carbon atoms meet on a palladium atom, whereupon their proximity to one another kick-starts the chemical reaction," the Academy's jury said, adding that the tool has "vastly improved the possibilities for chemists to create sophisticated chemicals for example carbon-based molecules as complex as those created by nature itself, and has applications in medical, electronics and agricultural fields."

The first Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded in 1901 to Jacobus Henricus van't Hoff, of the Netherlands for his discovery of the laws of chemical dynamics and osmotic pressure in solutions.

Prior to Negishi and Suzuki, four Japanese nationals were honored with Nobel Prizes in 2008, including chemistry prize winner Osamu Shimomura.



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