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Dean Toste wins 2008 Thieme IUPAC Prize

Dean Toste
Dean Toste

March 31, 2008

Dean Toste has won the 2008 Thieme IUPAC Prize. As the 9th recipient of the Prize, the awardee joins a select group of scientists under the age of 40 years whose research has had a major impact on the field of synthetic organic chemistry. The Prize will be presented to Toste at his Award Lecture on June 24, 2008, at the ICOS-17 conference in Daejon, Korea.

The Thieme–IUPAC Prize is presented every two years on the occasion of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry – International Conference on Organic Synthesis (IUPAC–ICOS).

Sponsored jointly by Georg Thieme Verlag, IUPAC, and the editors of SYNLETT, SYNTHESIS, Science of Synthesis, and Houben–Weyl, the prize is given on the basis of scientific merit for independent research dealing with synthesis in the broadest context of organic chemistry, including organometallic chemistry, medicinal and biological chemistry, designed molecules, and materials.

After completion of B. Sc. and M. Sc. degrees at the University of Toronto, where he carried out research under the guidance of Ian W. J. Still, Toste joined Barry M. Trost at Stanford University in 1995, where he obtained his Ph. D. in 2000. His Ph.D. thesis received the prestigious ACS Nobel Laureate Signature Award.

Following postdoctoral research with Robert H. Grubbs at the California Institute of Technology, Toste joined the Department of Chemistry at Berkeley in 2002 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2006.

Toste’s research is aimed primarily toward the development of catalysts and catalytic reactions and methods for organic synthesis, and he has been responsible for a wide range of new discoveries, made at an extraordinary rate.

His achievements include the almost unprecedented use of a high oxidation state dioxorhenium complex to catalyze reductions of aldehydes, ketones, and imines, an approach that is contrary to conventional wisdom. Nevertheless, he went on to elucidate a novel mechanism for the process and developed a stereoselective version.

Toste’s research has also led to a series of outstanding contributions in the use of late transition metal complexes in low oxidation states, most notably gold(I), as catalysts for advanced organic synthesis. The potential of gold catalysts has been overlooked for decades, and it is largely due to the achievements of the Toste lab that this situation is now rapidly changing.

A recent achievement, which holds considerable promise, is his insightful approach to stereoselective catalysis using chiral counterions to the cationic gold template. Toste’s development of new methodologies is characterized by a rational approach rather than by random screening, and is supported by a deep commitment to understanding the underlying mechanisms of these extraordinary processes, which sets the stage for further development of this chemistry.

Thieme publishes highly evaluated information about synthetic and general chemistry for professional chemists and advanced students since 1909. Thieme Chemistry is part of the privately owned Thieme Publishing Group.

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