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Professor Frank Glorius, winner of the 2022 Janssen Prize for Creativity in Organic Synthesis.

Professor of Chemistry
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Professor Glorius is an international leader and highly innovative scientist in the fields of organic synthesis and catalysis with outstanding contributions and accomplishments, in particular, in catalytic hydrogenations, C-H activation, visible light photocatalysis and organocatalysis with N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs).


His research program on the hydrogenation of arenes has led to numerous major breakthroughs. This work is not only of high academic relevance, but also holds great potential for applications in industry. Asymmetric hydrogenation is one of the most reliable, widely used methods in the synthesis of chiral molecules on a laboratory as well as on an industrial scale. Despite great progress during the last five decades, the asymmetric and highly chemoselective hydrogenation of arenes and heteroarenes has remained a great challenge. Frank Glorius set out to tackle this challenge and came up with highly innovative solutions.


He achieved an initial breakthrough in 2004 with the stereoselective hydrogenation of auxiliary-substituted pyridines, which caught wide attention as the structures of the resulting enantiomerically pure piperidine products are important motifs in many biologically active molecules. An additional significant advance of his was the development of a switchable and enantioselective hydrogenation of substituted quinoxalines with Ru-NHC catalysts. Depending on the choice of NHC ligand, either one of the two aromatic rings of the quinoxaline system could be selectively reduced. In addition, his outstanding work on C-H activation, NHCs on surfaces, photocatalysis, smart screening methods (data generation) and machine learning has resulted in numerous high impact publications which contributed to shaping these novel fields of research.


Frank Glorius was born in 1972 in Germany. From 1992-1997 he studied chemistry at the University of Hannover, Germany. In 1995/1996 he performed some research studies in the group of Prof. Paul A. Wender at Stanford University, USA. His diploma thesis (1997) was completed through a collaboration in the groups of Prof. Andreas Pfaltz (Max-Planck-Institut (MPI) für Kohlenforschung, Mülheim/Ruhr) and Prof. H. Martin R. Hoffmann (University of Hannover). Between 1997-2000, he worked towards his Ph.D. in the group of Prof. Andreas Pfaltz (University of Basel & MPI für Kohlenforschung) which he received with summa cum laude. In 2000/2001 moved to Harvard University where he joined the group of Prof. David A. Evans as a postdoctoral fellow. In 2001 he started his independent research career at the MPI für Kohlenforschung in collaboration with Prof. Alois Fürstner. In 2004 Frank Glorius became a C3-Professor for Organic Chemistry at the University of Marburg. Since 2007 he has been Full Professor of Organic Chemistry at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster.


Frank Glorius has published close to 400 scientific articles, is an inventor on 13 patents and has been the recipient of several national and international awards and recognitions such as Elected Member of the German National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina (2021), Mitsui Catalysis Award (2020), Otto-Roelen-Medal (DECHEMA & German Catalysis Society, 2020), Gay-Lussac Humboldt Award (France, 2019), Merck, Sharp & Dohme Award of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC, 2018), Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society (ACS, 2018), Mukaiyama Award of The Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Japan (SSOCJ, 2017), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz-Award (2013).


He has delivered hundreds of lectures around the world and is a scientific advisory board member for Symrise AG and of Leibniz-Institut für Katalyse e.V. (LIKAT). Furthermore, he serves as series editor of Topics in Organometallic Chemistry (Springer) and as a member of the advisory boards of Chemical Science, ChemPhotoChem, Helvetica Chimica, Acta, Organic Chemistry Frontiers, Advanced Synthesis & Catalysis.


Beyond his outstanding scientific contributions Frank Glorius is also an excellent academic teacher and mentor for 52 Diploma and MSc theses, for 70 doctoral students (50 completed dissertations), 40 postdocs and for 2 Habilitations. 38 former coworkers have become Professors and all others started an industrial career.


"Paul Janssen was a true pioneer, and it is a great honor for me to receive this award and join the prestigious and impressive list of previous winners!

Chemical research and organic synthesis are not only essential for the prosperity of our modern society, but also offer exciting opportunities for creativity. We are all molecular artists!"


Frank Glorius
Last updated: March 08, 2022