Purdue's Nobel laureate wins Japan's highest cultural honor

October 27, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University's Nobel Prize winner will receive Japan's highest distinction, the Order of Culture, on Nov. 3 from the country's emperor.

Ei-ichi Negishi

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Ei-ichi Negishi (pronounced "H. Na-gee-shee"), the Herbert C. Brown Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, will receive the honor for his contributions to Japan's cultural development through his work to create a method to build complex organic molecules necessary for numerous purposes, from pharmaceutical manufacturing to electronics. Negishi is a Japanese national and first moved to the United States in 1960.

"Dr. Negishi's groundbreaking and inspiring work performed at Purdue has had a transformative impact throughout the world, and we share with Japan a great sense of pride in his accomplishments," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "This is an incredible achievement for him and has brought great honor to Purdue, Indiana and his home country of Japan. Dr. Negishi is one of our finest examples of the quality of Purdue's faculty and a great inspiration to all of our students."

Negishi will receive the Order of Culture with six other recipients from fields as wide-ranging as acting, athletics and engineering. 

George Hisaeda, consul general of Japan at Chicago, said, "The award is one of Japan's most prestigious honors, which recognizes individuals who have made great contributions in academia and culture. Japanese people around the world are delighted and extremely proud of Dr. Negishi and his achievement."

Typically only one scientist is given the award annually, but this year Akira Suzuki, a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in chemistry with Negishi, also will receive the award. 

Both Negishi and Suzuki also will be recognized as Persons of Cultural Merit, an honor given to those who have made outstanding cultural contributions. This distinction works in tandem with the Order of Culture to support creative activities in Japan. 

The Order of Culture was established in 1937. Japan's prime minister and cabinet decide on recipients after the Committee for Persons of Cultural Merit and the minister for education, science, sports and culture select candidates.

The emperor of Japan will confer the order on Negishi during an awards ceremony at the Imperial Palace.

Negishi was announced as a winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry on Oct. 6.

He grew up in Japan and received a bachelor's degree in organic chemistry from the University of Tokyo in 1958. He moved to the United States in 1960 to attend graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania as a Fulbright-Smith-Mundt scholar, earning a doctorate in organic chemistry in 1963. Negishi went to Syracuse University in 1972, where he was an assistant professor and then an associate professor before returning to Purdue in 1979.

He was appointed the H.C. Brown Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in 1999 and has won various awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the A.R. Day Award, a 1996 Chemical Society of Japan Award, the 1998 American Chemical Society Organometallic Chemistry Award, a 1998 Humboldt Senior Researcher Award and the 2010 American Chemical Society Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. Negishi has authored more than 400 publications including two books, one of which is the Handbook of Organopalladium Chemistry for Organic Synthesis. Collectively, these publications have been cited more than 20,000 times.

Writer: Elizabeth Gardner, 765-494-2081, ekgardner@purdue.edu

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