Dieter Seebach#

Born in 1937 in Karlsruhe (Germany), married to Ingeborg (born Reichling), three children.
Nationality: German.


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; presently “Akademischer Gast” at ETH.

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, enantio-selective catalysis, self-regeneration of stereogenic centers, use of microorganisms and enzymes, chiral fluor¬ine-con¬taining 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), syntheses of enantiopure compounds with TADDOL auxiliaries, chiral dendrimers, and β-peptides, the latter area being the topic of present research with a group of postdoctoral coworkers. The results have been described in 790 research papers, in 150 Ph.D. theses, and in 950 lectures held in universities, at national and international meetings and at companies.

Visiting professorships

Madison-Wisconsin, California Institute of Technology, Johannesburg (S.A.), Canberra, Max Planck-Institut Mülheim, JSPS (Japan), Strasbourg, Technische Universität München, Universität Kaiserslautern, Frankfurt, Cornell, Harvard.

Distinguished lectureships:

Kolthoff (Minnesota), Vorhees (Urbana-Champaign), Greater Manchester (UK), M. S. Kharasch (Chicago), W. E. Bachmann (Michigan), Barré (Montréal), Musgrave (Durham), R. Hirschmann (Madison-Wisconsin), J. Musher (Jerusalem), G. Büchi (MIT), R. B. Sandin (Alberta, Edmonton), Andrews (New South Wales, Australia), M. Tishler (Harvard), Falk-Plaut (Columbia), Centenary Lecture (Royal Soc. Chem.), Firth (Sheffield), C. Shipp Marvel (Urbana-Champaign), Merck (Cambridge, U.K.), Bergmann (Yale), Clemo (Newcastle upon Tyne), Merck-Schuchardt (BOSS 5, Namur), Schering (Berlin), Korea (Seoul and Sogang), E. E. Smissman (Lawrence, Kansas), Thieme (Stuttgart), R. B. Turner (Rice), B. Carruther (Exeter), Nieuwland (Notre Dame), Kennedy (St. Louis), Fèlix Serratosa (Barcelona), Appleton (Brown University), Melvin Calvin Lecture (Berkeley), Barton Lecture (Texas A&M), Bohlmann Lecture (Berlin), H.C. Brown Lecture (Indiana), Annual Francis Clifford Phillips Lecture (Pittsburgh), Wyeth-Ayerst Lecture (MIT), Holm Lecture (Technical University of Denmark), The Abbott Lecturer (University of Chicago), Bristol-Myers Squibb Lecture (Stanford University), Marker Lectures (U. Maryland), Taft Memorial lecture (UC Irvine), Stork lecture (Columbia), J.D. Roberts lecture (CALTECH)

Awards and prizes:

Dozentenpreis (Fonds der Chemischen Industrie, Germany), Havinga Medal (Leiden, 1985), Karl Ziegler-Preis (Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker, 1987), Fluka Prize (Reagent of the year 1987), 1992 ACS Award for Creative Work in Organic Synthesis, The Allan Day Award (Philadelphia OCC, 1995), Hamilton Award (Lincoln, Nebraska, 1996), Roger Adams Award (ACS) 1999, King Faisal Prize 1999 for Science, Yamada Prize 2000 (Japan), Marcel Benoist-Preis (Switzerland) 2000, Chirality Medal 2002, Nagoya Medal 2002 (Japan), A.-W.-v.Hofmann medal (GdCh), Tetrahedron Prize (2003), du Vigneaud Award (2004), Honorary Member, Swiss Chemical Society (2004), Ryoji Noyori Prize (2004), Max-Bergmann Medal (2005).


Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher, Leopoldina (Halle); corresponding membership Akademie der Wissenschaften und Literatur in Mainz; Academia Europea (founding member); Einzelmitglied der Schweizerischen Akademie der Technischen Wissenschaften (1998); corresponding membership Academia Mexicana de Ciencias (AMC) 2001, México; foreign associate National Academy of Sciences USA (2007)

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

Professional Activities
  • Author 1971 of the Houben-Weyl, volume 4/4 on Carbocyclic Four-Membered Rings
  • Director 1971 - 1977 of the Institut für Organische Chemie der Universität Giessen, Germany
  • Chairman 1975/1976 of the Fakultät für Chemie, Universität Giessen
  • Committee 1976 - 1978 Fachgutachterausschuss Chemie der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft, Bonn
  • Consultant since 1977 to Sandoz/Novartis AG/Syngenta AG, Basel, Switzerland and USA (Pharma and Agro Division)
  • Board 1977 - 1981 of Organic Syntheses, USA, as foreign editor
  • Board of Directors
    • 1981 - 1997 to Lonza AG, Basel, Switzerland
    • 1988 – 2000 to Sandoz Inc./Novartis Corp. USA
    • 1988 - 1998 of the Sandoz/Novartis Forschungsinstitut in Vienna
  • Board 1981-1992 of the Schweizerischer Chemiker-Verband
  • Editorial Board since 1983 of "Organic Nitro Chemistry", published by Verlag Chemie International, Inc., USA, Managing Editor: Dr. Henry Feuer
  • Consultant since 1984 to Degussa, Research and Development Division
  • Director 1984/1985 and 1991/1992 of the Laboratorium für Organische Chemie, ETH, Zürich, Switzerland
  • Editorial Advisory Board since 1984 of Synthesis, Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart/New York
  • Advisory Board since 1985 of Chimia, Birkhäuser AG, Basel, Switzerland, Schweizerischer Chemiker-Verband (Association of Swiss Chemists)
  • Editorial Board 1985-1994 of the Kuratorium, Angewandte Chemie, Verlag Chemie, Weinheim, Germany
  • Editorial Committee 1986-1991 of Helvetica Chimia Acta, Schweizerische Chemische Gesellschaft
  • "Nominierungs- 1986 of the G.W.-Leibnitz-Programm der Deutschen Ausschuss" Forschungsgemeinschaft, Bonn
  • President 1987 of the 23rd EUCHEM Conference on Stereochemistry, Bürgenstock, Switzerland, May 3 - 9, 1987
  • Board 1987 - 1992 of the Schweizerische Chemische Gesellschaft (Swiss Chemical Society)
  • Committee Canvassing Committee for the Roger Adams Award in Organic Chemistry 1991-1996 (Am. Chem. Soc.)
  • Board 1992 - 1995 of the Neue Schweizerische Chemische Gesellschaft (NSCG)
  • Consultant since 1992 to Firmenich (Geneva), Divisions of Development and Production
  • Chairman 1994 - 1996 of the Department of Chemistry, ETH, Zürich, Switzerland
  • Advisory Board 1995 of Chemistry - a European Journal
  • Board of Directors 1997 - 1999 Alusuisse-Lonza AG (AL Group), Zürich
  • Scientific Review 1998 - 2002 Novartis Forschungsinstitut, Vienna
  • Consultant since 2000 Syngenta Research, Developement and Production Divisions
  • Board of Directors 2000 - 2006 Clariant (Verwaltungsrat)

Professor emeritus and Academic Guest at ETH Zuerich since 2003

Visiting professor

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University 2007/2008


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

Awards, Honors, Distinguished Lectureships(info)

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