A major goal of organic and medicinal chemistry in recent decades has been the rapid synthesis of three-dimensional molecules for the development of new drugs. These drug candidates exhibit a variety of improved properties compared to predominantly flat molecular structures, which are reflected in clinical trials by higher efficacy and success rates. However, they could only be produced at great expense or not at all using previous methods. Chemists led by Prof. Frank Glorius (University of Münster) and his colleagues Prof. M. Kevin Brown (Indiana University Bloomington, USA) and Prof. Kendall N. Houk (University of California, Los Angeles, USA) have now succeeded in converting several classes of flat nitrogen-containing molecules into the desired three-dimensional structures. Using more than 100 novel examples, they were able to demonstrate the broad applicability of the process. This study has now been published in the journal “Science”.
Whether in beta-blockers to treat high blood pressure or in natural products: So-called vicinal aminoalcohols are high-quality organic compounds that are found in many everyday products. However, their production is difficult. For a long time, chemists are trying to develop efficient methods of synthesizing them. In their recent study published in the journal Nature Catalysis, scientists led by Prof. Dr. Frank Glorius of Münster University have found a solution for the production of a special variant of aminoalcohols. "The new method helps to study the properties of the substance and to find applications for these new compounds in the future", emphasizes Frank Glorius from the Organic Chemistry Institute at Münster University.
A great success for the University of Münster: the German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding two new Collaborative Research Centres (CRC). The two research alliances – entitled “inSight – Multiscale imaging of organ-specific inflammation” and “Intelligent matter: From responsive to adaptive nanosystems” – will together be receiving funding of more than 20 million euros. The projects will be starting in January 2021, running initially for four years. The new Centres are a boost two of the research focuses which the University of Münster has: “Cell Dynamics and Imaging” and “Nanosciences”. "What great news! This is an impressive success for all scientists involved in the CRC, but also for the university as a whole," emphasises Rector Prof. Johannes Wessels.
A great distinction for a chemist from the University of Münster: the European Research Council (ERC) has awarded Dr. Manuel van Gemmeren an ERC Starting Grant worth 1.5 million euros. The EU-funded research project that van Gemmeren will lead over the coming five years, belongs to the field of organic chemistry. Since 2016, the researcher and his working group at Münster University have been studying so-called C-H-functionalizations – chemical reactions by means of which C-H-bonds, which are typically non-reactive, can be converted directly into complex target structures. “Such methods are important for the development of sustainable chemical value chains, especially for the synthesis of complex organic compounds,” Manuel van Gemmeren explains. “These compounds can then be used as active agents for example in medicines,” he adds.
Longer ranges for electric vehicles and the effective storage of electricity from renewable energies – these are research topics for the future which PhD students in Münster will be working on in a new international Graduate School. The research centre for “Battery Chemistry, Characterization, Analysis, Recycling and Application” (BACCARA for short) was officially opened on August 5 at the MEET Battery Research Centre at the University of Münster. It was set up with the participation of Münster University’s Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy and the Helmholtz Institute Münster – an outstation of the Jülich Research Centre. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is providing 9.5 million euros of funding for the school over five years.
“Promoting junior researchers will be decisive for the future success of battery research at Münster and is therefore especially important for the NRW government,” said Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, NRW’s Minister of Culture and Science, as she presented the confirmation of funding at the MEET Battery Research Centre. “I very much hope that the BACCARA research school will be included in the CVs of many young researchers developing high-performance batteries of the future,” she added. She expressed her thanks to Prof. Martin Winter, the scientific director of the Battery Research Centre, Prof. Frank Glorius from the Institute of Organic Chemistry at the University of Münster, and the technical and commercial director of MEET, Dr. Falko Schappacher, who, she said, “have developed this project with a high degree of commitment.”
A chemist at the University of Münster is awarded a great honour: the National Academy of Sciences, “Leopoldina”, recently appointed Prof. Armino Studer as a new member. In doing so, the Academy acknowledges his outstanding scientific achievements. “For me, it is a very special accolade to be part of the oldest society of scientific and medical scholars in German-speaking countries,” says Armido Studer.
For his work in the field of catalysis science, the chemist Prof. Frank Glorius from the University of Münster has received the "2020 Mitsui Chemicals Catalysis Science Award". The prize, endowed with 5 million yen (the equivalent of almost 41,000 euros), is awarded every two years to outstanding chemists under 47 years of age. This year's focus is sustainability, to highlight the social issues including plastic waste management to which the chemical industry could contribute.
They occur in nature, are reactive and play a role in many biological processes: polyenes. It is no wonder that chemists have for a long time been interested in efficiently constructing these compounds – not least in order to be able to use them for future biomedical applications. However, such designs are currently neither simple nor inexpensive and present organic chemists with major challenges. Scientists at the University of Münster headed by Prof. Ryan Gilmour have now found a bio-inspired solution to the problem: They succeeded in constructing complex polyenes such as retinoic acid from simple, geometrically well-defined alkene building blocks. To do this, the scientists used small molecules as "antennas" which they excited with light, thereby enabling difficult chemical reactions to proceed via a process known as “Energy Transfer Catalysis”.
In the production of compounds, chemists have the fundamental goal of finding strategies that are most selective and avoid waste products. Breakthroughs in this area serve, among other things, to drive industrial innovation and drug development. In this context, allylic substitution reactions using catalysts made of so-called transition metals have already led to significant advances in science. The catalysts cause that in a molecule a functional group is replaced by another group in allylic position, i.e. in direct proximity to a carbon-carbon double bond.
Prof. Frank Glorius from Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster / Germany receives the Otto-Roelen-Medal 2020. This prize will be awarded by DECHEMA and the German Catalysis Society in recognition of his developments in the field of chemo- and stereoselective hydrogenation of aromatics.
Organic molecules with atoms of the semi-metal boron are among the most important building blocks for synthesis products that are needed to produce drugs and agricultural chemicals. However, during the usual chemical reactions used in industry, the valuable boron unit, which can replace another atom in a molecule, is often lost. Chemists at the University of Münster have now succeeded in significantly expanding the range of applications of commercially and industrially used boron compounds, so-called allylboronic esters. The study has been published in the scientific journal "Chem".
Dr. Manuel van Gemmeren, a chemist, convinced with his science: The German Research Foundation funds the junior scientist from the University of Münster with almost 1.7 million euros. This will enable him to set up his own research group at the Institute of Organic Chemistry over the next six years.
Award for Prof. Ryan Gilmour: The organic chemist of the University of Münster has been appointed "Prof. David Ginsburg Lecturer" at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology for the academic year 2020/21. The Institute annually selects an outstanding chemist from other research institutions to strengthen international cooperation in science and teaching. "The lectureship is an exciting opportunity to forge links between the University of Münster and the Technion in Israel," says Ryan Gilmour.
Prof. Frank Glorius, an organic chemist at the University of Münster, has been awarded the Gay-Lussac Humboldt Prize for his outstanding research and his close links to France in his work. He received the prize in Paris on 7 May. The French Ministry of Higher Education and Research awards the prize to excellent German researchers, in all disciplines, who are seen as examples of special collaboration between the two countries. Once a year, two researchers are chosen who each receive 60,000 euros for the purpose of further extending the collaborations they have.
International Award for Organic Chemist at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (WWU): Prof. Dr. Armido Studer is this year's winner of the "Pedler Award", which is awarded by the British "Royal Society of Chemistry". He receives the prize for his "outstanding contribution to method development in the field of radical chemistry," the organization emphasizes. The award commemorates the British chemist Alexander Pedler and is awarded annually for important scientific contributions in organic chemistry to internationally established researchers. In addition to a medal Armido Studer receives the invitation to lecture at various universities in England.
So far, instructors Karin Hassels and Peter Eggert have supervised 43 chemical lab assistants during their training.
In addition to providing facilities for studies and research, the University of Münster offers apprenticeships and vocational training in 19 different occupations – from gardener to IT systems technician. One example of this vocational training is that for chemical laboratory assistants at the Institute of Organic Chemistry, where the two people responsible for this training are Karin Hassels (since 2009) and Peter Eggert (since 2001). Kathrin Nolte spoke with the two instructors about educational requirements and about the development away from practical working towards a greater demand for specialist knowledge.
Pressure vessel (autoclave) for the hydrogenation of fluorinated pyridines. The reactions are carried out at a hydrogen pressure of 50 bar (normal atmospheric pressure is 1 bar).
Synthetic molecules are essential for many products in our lives: medicines, crop protection agents or special materials such as Teflon. These molecules have several components, which can be combined in a variety of ways, resulting in different properties. Both so-called piperidines and fluorinated groups are particularly important. Piperidines are small, ring-shaped chemical compounds. Since, as a result of their particular properties, fluorine atoms bring about dramatic changes in the properties of certain products –they are often integrated in pharmaceuticals. Hence around twenty percent of all medicines sold worldwide contain fluorine. Up to now, however, combining fluorine atoms and piperidines has always been an extremely laborious process. Now, for the first time, chemists at the University of Münster have developed a new, easy to do synthesis method for producing such fluorine-bearing piperidines. The study – written by Dr. Zackaria Nairoukh, Marco Wollenburg, Dr. Christoph Schlepphorst, Dr. Klaus Bergander and Prof. Frank Glorius – has just been published in the online edition of the Nature Chemistry journal.
WWU-Prorektorin Prof. Monika Stoll (l.), NRW-Wissenschaftsministerin Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen und Akademiepräsident Prof. Wolfgang Löwer (r.) gratulierten Dr. Manuel van Gemmeren (2.v.l.) und Dr. Raphael Wittkowski.
On Tuesday evening (January 15th), the two outstanding junior scientists Manuel van Gemmeren and Raphael Wittkowski from the University of Münster have been welcomed by the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts (AWK NRW) in Düsseldorf as new members of the Junges Kolleg. The physicist Dr. Raphael Wittkowski and the chemist Dr. Manuel van Gemmeren are amongst twelve new members of the NRW-Kolleg that have been chosen from all over the state. (see German press release here)
Two Consolidator Grants for 2018, awarded by the European Research Council (ERC), go to researchers at the University of Münster: Prof. Niels Petersen, a lawyer at the Faculty of Law, and Prof. Ryan Gilmour, a chemist at the Institute of Organic Chemistry, each receive one of the coveted grants, which are together worth 3.6 million euros.
A new method of selectively binding proteins to nanoparticles has been described by a team of German and Chinese researchers headed by Prof. Bart Jan Ravoo, a chemist at the “Center for Soft Nanoscience” at the University of Münster. The nanoparticles automatically recognize specific peptides, i.e. small proteins, and enter into highly selective binding with them. Among the model peptides which the researchers examined were amyloids. Deposits of amyloids, for example, play a major role in Alzheimer’s disease, so the researchers are hoping that the mechanism they have discovered might provide a new approach to treating diseases in which such deposits occur. The study has been published in the latest issue of the “Nature Chemistry” journal.
Two “Advanced Grants” from the European Research Council (ERC) go to researchers at the University of Münster and the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Molecular Biomedicine in Münster. Biochemist Ralf Adams, Professor at the Medical Faculty of the University and at MPI, and Frank Glorius, Professor at the Institute of Organic Chemistry at the University, each receive one of the grants.
Professor Frank Glorius and his coworkers have developed a new and simple method for the formation of previously difficult to access fluorine-substituted three-dimensional cyclic molecules. Since these molecules are interesting for the development of new drugs or functional materials, this work was selected for publication in the renowned journal Science.
(upper link to German press release)
PhD student Johannes Ernst and his supervisor, Prof. Frank Glorius, from the Organic Chemistry Institute will receive two awards from the International Precious Metal Institute (IPMI) in Florida in June. Johannes Ernst will be awarded a "Student Award" for the excellent research on the modification of transition metal catalysts with organic molecules (N-heterocyclic carbenes), while Prof. Glorius will receive an award for his dedicated and outstanding supervision.
(upper link to German press release)
Within the Science magazine the Studer Research Group has published a unique concept for the transition metal-free formation of three C-C-bonds starting from vinylboron ate complexes. The presented method complies to the Suzuki-Miyaura cross-coupling reaction. This work has been supported and funded by the European Research Council (ERC). Publication in Science (free access)
Since January 2017, Dr. Manuel van Gemmeren from the Organic Chemistry Institute of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (WWU) heads an Otto Hahn Junior Research Group of the Max Planck Society (MPG). He teaches and conducts his research at the WWU and is at the same time affiliated to the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion in Mülheim an der Ruhr.
(upper link to German press release)
Good news from Brussels: Prof. Dr. Gustavo Fernández Huertas from the Organic Chemistry Institute of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (WWU) receives one of the prestigious European research grants – the “Starting Grant” of the European Research Council (ERC), worth almost 1.5 million Euros.
(upper link to German press release)