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Department of Chemistry, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University

Professor Keiji Maruoka honored with Humboldt Research Award.

Prof. Keiji Maruoka was selected to receive a 2011 Humboldt Research Award. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation grants up to 100 Humboldt Research Awards annually to foreign scientists and scholars who have made internationally recognized academic contributions. The Senior Research Award honors the academic and research achievements of the career of the recipient.

Prof. Maruoka made an important and significant contribution to modern phase-transfer chemistry. He rationally designed and synthesized non-natural, C2 symmetric chiral phase transfer catalysts derived from optically pure binaphthol. He has successfully applied his catalysts to the development of a new, practical approach for asymmetric synthesis of various natural- and unnatural-type amino acid derivatives, starting from a glycine derivative as the simplest amino acid. A series of chiral binaphthyl-modified spiro-type phase transfer catalysts are now commercially available as "Maruoka Catalyst®" from Wako Pure Chemical Industries, Ltd., and also from Sigma-Aldrich Co. He also worked to simplify these phase transfer catalysts while maintaining high catalytic performance, and finally succeeded with his "Simplified Maruoka Catalyst®." A catalyst with such high performance and the general applicability has not been found before in the field of asymmetric phase-transfer catalysis.

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