H.C. Brown Centennial Celebration brings two Nobel winners

May 16, 2012


H.C. Brown was a Purdue chemistry professor from 1947 until 2004, winning a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in1979. (Purdue University Department of Chemistry file photo)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Two Nobel Prize recipients will participate in the H.C. Brown Centennial Celebration from June 3-9 at Purdue.

Professors Ei-ichi Negishi of Purdue and Akira Suzuki of Sapporo University, both students of Brown and Nobel laureates, highlight a list of participants in the celebration.

Brown, who would have turned 100 this year, was one of America's leading chemists of the 20th century. His work with boron compounds revolutionized organic chemistry and earned him a Nobel Prize in 1979. His discoveries at Purdue, from his arrival in 1947 until his death in 2004, opened new avenues in academic and industrial chemistry.

"There is only one H.C. Brown, and he is a legend," said P.V. Ramachandran, a Purdue organic chemistry professor who studied under Brown. "His contributions to organic chemistry and boron chemistry are mammoth. He lives on with his contributions in any undergraduate text book on organic chemistry."

Brown's work with boranes is used today in the synthesis of many organic compounds, including a majority of medications.

"Most medicines are more affordable today because the methods used to prepare them relate to Brown's work," Ramachandran said. "It's hard to make pharmaceutical compounds, medicines and materials, all of which make our lives better, without using Brown's chemistry."

The H.C. Brown Centennial Celebration includes several events:

13th Boron Americas Meeting (June 3-6): This international, interdisciplinary forum will offer oral and poster presentations in a variety of applications, including the chemistry of biologically active compounds, synthetic organic, inorganic, industrial chemistry and the chemistry of alternate energy materials. The Boron Americas Meeting is held every two years.

Purdue Libraries Dr. Herbert C. Brown Exhibit (June 7): The Purdue University Libraries will host an exhibit of Brown's papers from June 4 to Aug. 24. On June 7, Jeffrey Roberts, Dean of the College of Science, will give a short presentation on the chemistry department. Negishi will discuss Brown's work that led to a Nobel Prize in 1979.

Brown Birth Centennial Celebration (June 7-8): Friends, colleagues and former students of Brown will convene to celebrate his life and accomplishments. Brown's former associates and students will present some of their most recent scientific contributions.

29th H.C. Brown Lectures (June 9): Speakers during this event include Negishi and Suzuki, both of whom studied under Brown. Other speakers include University of Bristol professor Varinder Aggarwal, ESPCI ParisTech professor Janine Cossy and University of Pittsburgh professor Peter Wipf.

Further information on the H.C. Brown Centennial Celebration can be found at https://www.chem.purdue.edu/brown100

Writer: Brian Peloza, 765-494-2081, bpeloza@purdue.edu

Sources: P.V. Ramachandran, 765-493-5503, chandran@purdue.edu

                  Steven Scherer, 765-494-5204, scherer@purdue.edu

Related Web site: 
Video profile of Nobel laureate and Purdue professor Ei-ichi Negish : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf0-A9BmQsI&feature=BFa&list=HL1335537625