Ei-ichi Negishi was a brilliant and distinguished organic chemist who is decorated with some of
the science community’s top honours and awards. Most notably is the 2010 Nobel prize in
Chemistry which was awarded to him based off his work with palladium-catalyzed coupling
reactions. His efforts have shaped the entire organic chemistry industry, and his principles are
used by world class researchers and drug developers every single day.
He was born in Manchuria and raised in Japan, before moving to the University of Pennsylvania
to obtain his PhD. His passion for coupling reactions and organic chemistry was matched by his
passion for educating. In 1966, he became a postdoctoral associate at Purdue University where
he worked until 1972. He then became an assistant professor at Syracuse University before
returning to Purdue in 1979 where he became a full professor. During his time at Purdue, he was
a Herbert C Brown distinguished professor and the director of the Negishi-Brown institute.
His greatest accomplishment was the discovery of the Negishi coupling process which is used to
condense organic zinc and organic halides under a palladium or nickel catalyst to obtain a C-C
bond. He also determined that organoaluminium compounds could be used for cross coupling.
Despite advice from his colleagues, Negishi chose to not patent his discovery so that the most
amount of people could access his results with ease. It was decisions such as that one, that truly
spoke to not only the brilliance of his mind but the depth of his character. Due to all of these,
FLOGEN had the great honour to award Ei-ichi Negishi with the the Fray International
Sustainability Award at FLOGEN at SIPS 2015 for all his contributions to the science
However, Ei-ichi Negishi was so much more than his accomplishments. Students saw him as a
kind and compassionate teacher who cared more about their personal learning and growth than
simply passing grades. He encouraged critical thinking and self-discovery in research and was
even in class with his students the day he became a Nobel Laureate. At home, he had a wife and
two beautiful daughters who he cared about deeply.
Ei-ichi Negishi faced a great challenge near the end of his life, where he battelled Alzheimer’s
disease. He will forever be remembered not as what he became but what he has allowed others to
become. FLOGEN offers our deepest condolences with the Negishi family as they navigate this
2010 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Prof. Ei-ichi Negishi, (1935-2021), In memoriam
Prof. Ei-ichi Negishi, with Prof. Tateo Usui, Osaka University, Japan and other distinguished colleagues
MESSAGE OF CONDOLENCES
The fact that Ei-ichi Negishi Sensei passed away in June 2021 was a huge loss for science. Sorry. Thank you for informing all SIPS friends and participants.
Many people generally know that he was a co-recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Richard Heck and Akira Suzuki, but most of them appreciate much less that many medicinal molecules like anti-inflammatory pills and other useful ones that they use on a daily basis like OLEDs could be mass-produced with the necessary purity thanks to his discoveries in palladium organometallic catalysis.
I first knew him through his scientific articles. Indeed, part of my work in organometallic chemistry has been devoted to the rationalization of the mechanism of the reactions for which he received the Nobel Prize. However, on a personal level, I came to appreciate him deeply when I was invited to Purdue to give a lecture precisely on the mechanism of his reaction that was still debated. I was a little tense because he sounded so seriously concerned while I was speaking. Yet, after hearing my lecture, he was so enthusiastic that he immediately jumped to the podium to cheer me on and on and changed all plans for my visit to discuss further in his office. Then, he invited me and my host to the most expensive Japanese restaurant in Purdue and ordered a sashimi of the famous Fugu fish which I tasted there with pleasure and apprehension for the first and only time in my life... Since then he has always supported me and my researches.
Let us bless the soul of this great scientist and Sensei.
CNRS FRANCE Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, France
To be updated
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