Prof. Dr. Dieter Seebach

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Prof. Dr. Dieter Seebach

ETH Zürich

Laboratorium für Organische Chemie

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Dieter Seebach

Vladimir-Prelog-Weg 3

8093 Zürich


  • phone +41 44 632 29 90 
  • fax +41 44 632 11 44 
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Born in 1937 in Karlsruhe (Germany), was married to Ingeborg (†), three children, Nationality: German.

Education: Elementary and secondary schools in Karlsruhe, B.S. 1961, Ph.D. 1964 (thesis on small-ring compounds and peroxides, supervisor R. Criegee) at the University of Karlsruhe (TH).
Postdoctoral Fellow with E.J. Corey (Li-dithianes) and Lecturer on Chemistry at Harvard University (1965/1966). Independent research at Karlsruhe led to a Habilitation on sulfur- and selenium-stabilized carbanions and carbenes in 1969.
Full Professor at the Justus Liebig-Universität Giessen (1971 - 1977) and since 1977 at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zürich; retired since 2003.

Present and past areas of research: Development of new synthetic methods (umpolung of reactivity, use of organometallic derivatives, of aliphatic nitro-compounds, of small rings, and of tartaric acid, enantioselective catalysis, self-regeneration of stereogenic centers, use of microorganisms and enzymes, chiral fluorine-containing building blocks, backbone modifications of peptides), natural product synthesis (macrodiolides, alkaloides, amino acids), mechanistic studies (dissociation of C,C bonds, stability of carbenoids, aggregation of Li-compounds, pyramidalization of trigonal centers, TiX4 catalysis), structure determination (Li- and Mg-derivatives, NMR-spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction), chemical and biochemical aspects of poly(hydroxyalkanoates)(PHB/PHA), syntheses of enantiopure compounds with TADDOL auxiliarieschiral dendrimers, and β-peptides, the latter area being the topic of present research, together with mechanistic investigations of organocatalyses. The results have been described in over 850 research papers (PDF, 740 KB) and in numerous lectures (PDF, 769 KB) held at national and international meetings and at companies (>1100 in all), and in 148 Ph.D. theses (PDF, 147 KB). A number of his former research associates have moved to top positions in companies or are now in academia (PDF, 85 KB).

Visiting professorships: Madison-Wisconsin (US, 1969/70), CALTECH (US, 1974), Johannesburg (ZA, 1977), Canberra (AU, 1980), Imperial College (GB, 1980), Weizmann Institute (IR, 1981), Max Planck-Institut Mülheim (DE, Mülheim, 1981), JSPS (JP, 1985), Université Louis Pasteur (FR, Strasbourg, 1987), Universitäten München (DE, TU, 1989), Kaiserslautern (DE, 1992), Frankfurt (DE, 1996), Cornell University (US, 1997), Harvard University (US, R. B. Woodward Professor 2003, 2010, Visiting Professor 2007/08), University of Hong-Kong (2006); Adeladide (2009), Münster (SFB 858, 2011).

Awards and Prizes (selection): Karl Ziegler-Preis (GdCh, 1987), Fluka Prize (Reagent of the year 1987), 1992 ACS Award for Creative Work in Organic Synthesis, Roger Adams Award (ACS, 1999), King Faisal Prize 1999 for Science, Marcel Benoist-Preis (CH, 2000), A.-W.-v.Hofmann Medal (GdCh, 2003), Tetrahedron Prize (2003), du Vigneaud Award (2004), Ryoji Noyori Prize (2004), Max-Bergmann Medal (2005).

Academies and Societies: Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften Leopoldina (Halle, 1984), Akademie der Wissenschaften und Literatur in Mainz (corresponding membership, 1990), Schweizerischen Akademie der Technischen Wissenschaften (Einzelmitglied, 1998), Academia Mexicana de Ciencias (corresponding membership, 2001), National Academy of Sciences USA ( foreign associate, 2007), Chemical Society Japan (Honorary Member, 2010).

Honorary Ph.D. degree (Dr. h.c.) of the University of Montpellier (FR, 1989).

Memberships: ACS, Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker, Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC), Schweizerische Chemische Gesellschaft, European Chemical Society, Chemical Society of Japan.

For Distinguished Lectureships (PDF, 92 KB) and Professional Activities (PDF, 42 KB) see separate lists.

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