John F. Hartwig
Wolf Prize Laureate in Chemistry 2019
John F. Hartwig
Affiliation at the time of the award:
University of California, Berkeley, USA
“for independently developing efficient transition-metal catalysts which form carbon-heteroatom bonds, thus transforming the way drug molecules are manufactured, for the benefit of humankind”.
Hartwig is a brilliant scientist who has made contributions to organometallic chemistry that have greatly advanced the field. He has also invented new synthetic methods that are proving to be exceedingly useful for total synthesis of complex molecular targets and new molecules of importance to medicinal chemistry and organic electronic materials.
John Hartwig received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University, obtained his Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley with Bob Bergman and Richard Andersen, and conducted a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT with Stephen Lippard. In 1992, he began his independent career at Yale University and became the Irenée P. DuPont Professor in 2004. In 2006, he moved to the University of Illinois where he was the Kenneth L. Rinehart Jr. Professor of Chemistry. In 2011, he returned to U.C. Berkley as the Henry Rapoport Professor. He has received numerous awards, including an A.C. Cope Scholar Award, the ACS award in Organometallic Chemistry, the American Chemical Socity H.C. Brown Award for Synthetic Methods, the Nagoya Gold Medal, and the Willard Gibbs Medal. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015, 2018 Centenary Prize from Royal Society of Chemistry and 2018 Tetrahedron Prize for Creativity in Organic Chemistry
The development of palladium-catalyzed carbon-carbon bond formation by Prof. Heck, Prof. Negishi and Prof. Suzuki, resulted in the 2010 Nobel Prize for this innovation. This achievement underscored the immense importance of making new chemical bonds, and at the same time it created an urgent need for going beyond carbon-carbon bonds. This is precisely the achievement of Prof. Buchwald and Prof. Hartwig who have independently harnessed cross coupling for the making of carbon-heteroatom bonds. These bonds and especially the carbon-nitrogen bonds are immensely important, because such bonds constitute a very basis of medicinal chemistry. Thus, the two laureates have pioneered the development of transition metal catalyzed procedures that are broadly applicable and allow carbon-heteroatom bonds of all sorts to be formed with previously unknown efficiency and precision.
In so doing, Profs. Buchwald and Hartwig have profoundly impacted the practice of organic synthesis in general and medicinal chemistry in particular. The transformative nature of their achievement has changed the way whereby ever-more-efficient drugs are discovered and eventually manufactured, for the extensive benefit of society today and in the future. This breakthrough is the fruit of truly basic research and fundamental mechanistic investigations into ligand design and the elementary steps that transition metal complexes are able to entertain. These methodologies proved to be truly potent and represent, as such, a lasting legacy for the art and science of catalysis, and the prime justification for awarding Buchwald and Hartwig with the Wolf Prize for 2019.