Purdue’s Nobel laureate celebrates 80th birthday

July 13, 2015  


Ei-ichi Negishi 
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University’s Nobel laureate Ei-ichi Negishi turns 80 on Tuesday (July 14). 

Negishi, the Herbert C. Brown Distinguished Professor Chemistry, won the 2010 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his palladium-catalyzed cross coupling to link carbon atoms and synthesize molecules.

In addition to its use in the development of the painkiller naproxen and the cancer treatment taxol, it is estimated that "Negishi coupling" and its variants is used in more than one-quarter of all chemical reactions in the pharmaceutical industry. The technique also has been used in fluorescent marking essential for DNA sequencing and in the creation of materials for thin LED displays.

“Although a birthday marks the passing of one year in a life, Dr. Negishi’s impact on humanity will be everlasting,” said Jeffrey Roberts, the Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science. “It is a joy to celebrate the wonderful person he is and the astounding achievements of his career. He continues to pursue lofty research goals and spurs the innovations of others through the Negishi-Brown Institute. It is impossible to overstate the impact he has had on generations of students, faculty and staff at Purdue.”

The Department of Chemistry is celebrating his birthday with special technical lectures by former students and friends during the annual Negishi-Brown Lectures, which will be held Monday and Tuesday (July 13-14).

Negishi currently serves as the inaugural director of Purdue's Negishi-Brown Institute, which supports basic research in catalytic organometallic chemistry through graduate and postdoctoral fellowships, regular workshops and symposia, and relationships with industrial partners.

Negishi was born July 14, 1935 and grew up in Japan. He received a bachelor's degree in organic chemistry from the University of Tokyo in 1958 and 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 came to Purdue in 1966 as a postdoctoral researcher under Herbert C. Brown, who won the Nobel Prize in 1979. 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. He was named a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences in 2014. He also was given the 2010 Order of Culture, Japan's highest distinction, and named as a Person of Cultural Merit.

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.

Speakers at the annual Negishi-Brown lectures include James M. Tour of Rice University, Shengming Ma of SIOC in Shanghai, Robert M. Williams of Colorado State University, Tony Y. Zhang of Eli Lilly, Tamotsu Takahashi, of Hokkaido University, John A. Soderquist, of the University of Puerto Rico, George W. Kabalka of the University of Tennessee, Saverio Florio of the University of Bari in Italy, Yasushi Nishihara of Okayama University, Shiqing Xu of Purdue, Hisashi Yamamoto of the University of Chicago, Masakatsu Shibasaki of the Institute of Microbial Chemistry in Japan, Chi-Huey Wong of the Genomics Research Center and Academia Sinica in Taiwan, Victor Snieckus of Queens University in Canada and Negishi. More information about the lecture series is available at: https://www.chem.purdue.edu/negishibrown/ 

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

Sources: Jeffrey Roberts, 765-494-1730, jtrob@purdue.edu

Steve Scherer, scherer@purdue.edu 

Related news releases:

Purdue professor wins Nobel Prize in chemistry

Bronze bust of Purdue’s Nobel Laureate Negishi to be unveiled: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2014/Q2/bronze-bust-of-purdues-nobel-laureate-negishi-to-be-unveiled.html 

Related video:

Video profile of Ei-ichi Negishi 

Note to Journalists: A private banquet to celebrate Negishi’s birthday will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday (July 13) at the Lafayette Country Club. The media is invited to attend, but the event is closed to the public. Interviews may also be arranged during the Negishi-Brown lecture series. Please contact Elizabeth Gardner at ekgardner@purdue.edu or 765-494-2081 to make arrangements. 

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