On May 5, the Department of Chemistry, Institute of Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery (ICB&DD), College of Arts and Sciences and Office of the Provost hosted the 2023 Ojima Distinguished Lectureship Award honoring John F. Hartwig, Henry Rapoport Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. The event took place in the Charles B. Wang Center.
Established in 2020 to commemorate Department of Chemistry Distinguished Professor Iwao Ojima’s 75th birthday, the award is based on an endowment from the Ojima family to help ensure that eminent scholars can continue to enrich the Department of Chemistry and Stony Brook University.
Peter Tonge, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, provided opening remarks, thanking Ojima and his wife Yoko Ojima for their generosity as well as their outstanding philanthropic work. Nicole Sampson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and distinguished professor of Chemistry, highlighted Ojima’s longstanding contributions to science and dedication to research and academia. She expressed her gratitude for Ojima’s devotion to innovative research and advancing the discipline of chemistry, highlighting his decades-long work to develop next-generation, anti-cancer agents and his latest success in the development of a second-generation taxane formulation that has shown great promise against solid tumors — particularly against colorectal cancer.
Hartwig’s lecture, “Catalyzing Organic Synthesis,” gave an overview of the broad role of transition metal catalysis in organic synthesis, including examples of large-scale industrial processes used in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and other consumer products. The lecture also included more recent examples from Hartwig’s own laboratory in the use of transition metal catalysis and biocatalysis in organic synthesis and other important organic transformations.
The lecture was followed by the presentation of the award plaque by Ojima to Hartwig.
Hartwig’s research focuses on the discovery and understanding of new reactions for organic synthesis catalyzed by transition metal complexes. He has received numerous awards including the American Chemical Society Award in Organometallic Chemistry, the Herbert C. Brown Award for Synthetic Methods, the Tetrahedron Prize for Creativity in Organic Synthesis, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry, and the Arthur C. Cope Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Hartwig received his AB from Princeton University and his PhD from University of California, Berkeley and conducted a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT. In 1992, Hartwig began his independent career at Yale University and became the Irenée P. DuPont Professor in 2004. He moved to the University of Illinois in 2006, where he was the Kenneth L. Rinehart Jr. Professor of Chemistry, and in 2011, returned to U.C. Berkley as the Henry Rapoport Professor.
Ojima received his BS, MS and PhD degrees from The University of Tokyo, Japan. He was a senior research fellow at the Sagami Institute of Chemical Research until 1983, at which time he joined Stony Brook University’s Department of Chemistry as an associate professor. In 1984 he was appointed professor, then leading professor in 1991 and distinguished professor in 1995. Ojima was the department chair from 1997 to 2003, and has been serving as the founding director for the ICB&DD since 2003, and as president of the Stony Brook University chapter of the National Academy of Inventors since 2016.
In recognition of his seminal contributions to the chemical sciences, Ojima has received many prestigious honors, including national awards in four different disciplines in chemistry from the American Chemical Society. He was inducted into the Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame of the American Chemical Society, received the Chemical Society of Japan Award, and Outstanding Inventor Award from the Research Foundation of the State University of New York. Ojima is an elected fellow of the J.S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, American Association for the Advancement of Science, New York Academy of Sciences, American Chemical Society, National Academy of Inventors and European Academy of Sciences.
Click here to view a video of the lecture.