Factbox: Nobel chemistry prize - Who are the winners?

LONDON (Reuters) - An American and two Japanese scientists won the 2010 Nobel Prize for Chemistry on Wednesday for a tool that makes it easier to build complex chemicals.

Here are some details about the winners:


-- Richard Fred Heck was born in 1931 in Springfield, MA, gaining a Ph.D. in 1954 from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). -- After postdoctoral stays at the ETH (Zurich, Switzerland) and then back at UCLA, he took a position with Hercules Co. in Wilmington, DE in 1957.

-- His research career at Hercules led to his move to the University of Delaware Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1971. He remained at the University of Delaware until his retirement in 1989.

-- Heck retired in 1989, but remains as Professor Emeritus. An annual lectureship was named in his honor in 2004.

-- Best known for the “Heck reaction,” the palladium-catalyzed coupling reaction of an aryl halide with an alkene that has come to bear his name, his investigations laid the groundwork for many of the catalytic organometallic bond forming processes currently in use in modern organic synthesis.

-- This is the reaction that was used to couple fluorescent dyes to DNA bases, allowing the automation of DNA sequencing and the elucidation of the human genome.


-- Suzuki was born in Mukawa in Japan in 1930.

-- After gaining a Ph.D. in the Graduate School of Science at Hokkaido University in 1959, he became an assistant professor at the Department of Chemical Process Engineering, Faculty of Engineering in 1961.

-- In 1973, he became professor at the Department of Applied Chemistry. Upon reaching mandatory retirement age in 1994, he became an Emeritus Professor at Hokkaido University.

-- Since his retirement in 1994, he served as a professor at Okayama University of Science. He also served as a professor at Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts from 1995 until 2002, where he advanced his lifework in research on boron chemistry.

-- He has engaged in research concerning synthesis and use of organic boron compound as a doctoral research fellow at H.C. Brown’s laboratory (Purdue University, U.S.) for two years from 1963, and further advanced this field after returning to Japan.

-- His work on the cross-coupling reaction of an organic boron compound using palladium catalyst, work he reported in 1979, has grown as a field topic with profound impacts on catalytic chemistry and material science.

-- He developed a new research topic globally recognized as the “Suzuki coupling reaction.” The reaction features extensive universality and practicality, and has been used for the synthesis of many biologically active natural products, including pharmaceutical preparations.


-- Ei-ichi Negishi, is the H. C. Brown Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Purdue University.

-- He was born in 1935 in Changchun, China (former Japan) and received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Tokyo in 1958.

-- He then joined Teijin, a chemical company. In 1960 he went to the United States, to the University of Pennsylvania gaining a Ph.D. in 1963. He returned to Teijin but decided to pursue an academic career.

-- Negishi went to Syracuse University as Assistant Professor in 1972 and began his life-long investigations of transition metal -- catalyzed organometallic reactions for organic synthesis.

-- Between 1976-1978, he published about 10 papers describing the catalyzed cross-coupling reactions of various organometals and three of these are called the “Negishi coupling.”

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