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Symposium honoring UD Nobel Laureate Richard Heck set for May 26

On Thursday, May 26, the University of Delaware will host the scholarly symposium "Frontiers in Catalysis" in honor of Richard F. Heck, Willis F. Harrington Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Register online at [].

Heck, with fellow researchers Akira Suzuki of Japan's Hokkaido University, and Ei-Ichi Negishi of Purdue University, received science's most prestigious prize, "for palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis," from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10, 2010. The scientists were honored for discovering "more efficient ways of linking carbon atoms together to build the complex molecules that are improving our everyday lives," according to the Nobel statement.

"Prof. Heck's discoveries have changed the world, leading to significant advancements in human health and medicine to electronics and energy research," said Patrick Harker, UD president. "We are delighted to welcome him back to the University of Delaware for this day of science and celebration, honoring his ground-breaking contributions."

The chemical process Heck invented, known as the "Heck Reaction," fundamentally changed how molecules are made, according to Tom Apple, UD provost and professor of chemistry. Apple was a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UD when Heck was on the faculty.

"Dick Heck's research launched entire new classes of pharmaceuticals for fighting diseases such as cancer," Apple said. "His work was essential for the Human Genome Project and fields such as proteomics, as well as the development of new energy technologies ranging from organic LEDs to sugar-based fuel cells."

The symposium will feature internationally prominent speakers from academia and industry, including Heck's co-laureate Ei-Ichi Negishi, Herbert C. Brown Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Purdue University, who will deliver the keynote address as the 2011 Heck Lecturer.

Other speakers include Stephen L. Buchwald, Camille Dreyfus Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Todd Nelson, director of pharmaceutical sciences at Merck; Melanie Sanford, professor of chemistry at the University of Michigan; Victor Snieckus, Bader Chair in Organic Chemistry at Queen's University; and Dean Toste, professor of chemistry at the University of California Berkeley.

Primary sponsors include the University of Delaware through the Provost's Office, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Dow Chemical Co.; and Ashland. Additional support is being provided by DuPont.

Richard Heck was born in Springfield, Mass., on Aug. 15, 1931. He completed both his bachelor of science degree (1952) and his doctorate (1954) at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

After postdoctoral work, he took a position with Hercules in Wilmington, Del., in 1957, and moved to the University of Delaware in 1971, where he remained until his retirement in 1989. He now lives in the Philippines.

Heck's contributions previously have been recognized through a number of prestigious awards. In 2004, the University of Delaware Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry established the Heck Lectureship, an annual award given in recognition of significant achievement in the field of organometallic chemistry. In 2005, he was awarded the Wallace H. Carothers Award, bestowed by the Delaware section of the American Chemical Society for creative applications of chemistry that have had substantial commercial impact. In 2006, he received the Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods from the American Chemical Society.


Contact: Tracey Bryant
University of Delaware

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