Emanuel Merck Lectureship 2022 Awarded to John F. Hartwig

The Emanuel Merck Lectureship was established in 1992 and recognizes globally renowned scientists who have made superb contributions to chemical and pharmaceutical research.

23 May 2022 | Darmstadt, Germany
  • Outstanding scientific work in the field of metallo-organic chemistry honored
  • Co-discoverer of the Buchwald-Hartwig amination
  • 17th joint award presented by TU Darmstadt and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, today named John F. Hartwig, Henry Rapoport Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, as the seventeenth recipient of the Emanuel Merck Lectureship.

“I am honored by the recognition being given to me today for the discoveries made by my research group,” said Hartwig on receiving the news about this distinction. “Through our research, I wanted to show how transition-metal chemistry could change the way organic molecules are made and to influence the foundations of synthetic chemistry down to the level of undergraduate chemistry. My dream, which is beginning to be realized, has been to use fundamental principles to discover organic reactions catalyzed by these metals that are used to create life-saving medicines.”

Hartwig is being recognized for his outstanding work in transition metal catalysis. His achievements in transition metal chemistry have brought the design of molecules and syntheses to a new level – not only in an academic context where almost every total synthesis involves a catalytic transformation, but also for the industrial production of numerous pharmaceuticals. He has published more than 450 articles in scientific journals, holds 21 patents and has contributed numerous chapters to textbooks. To make the foundations and applications of catalysis accessible to a broader audience, he wrote the textbook “Organotransition Metal Chemistry – From Bonding to Catalysis”. Moreover, Hartwig is the founder of his own start-up Catylix Inc. Hartwig is co-discoverer of the Buchwald-Hartwig amination – a widely used palladium-catalyzed coupling reaction for the formation of C-N bonds from amines and aryl halides.

“Today we are recognizing the achievements of a superb scientist who has made breakthrough contributions to the further development of synthetic chemistry,” said Ulrich Betz, Vice President Innovation at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “This award helps to promote scientific exchange with internationally renowned researchers and to recognize them for their important work for science and society. As such, the award is ideally suited to both us as a science and technology company as well as to the research profile of the renowned Technical University of Darmstadt.”

The prize, worth € 30,000, will be presented to Hartwig today, on May 23, 2022, during a public lecture at the Hörsaal- und Medienzentrum at the Lichtwiese campus of TU Darmstadt. The prizewinner will hold a presentation there on “Catalyzing Organic Synthesis” at 5 p.m.

The Emanuel Merck Lectureship was jointly established by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and TU Darmstadt in 1992. It recognizes globally renowned scientists who have made superb contributions to chemical and pharmaceutical research. From 1993 to the present day, the award has been granted to 17 eminent scientists from all over the world.

Apart from the Emanuel Merck Lectureship, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, honors science and supports the work of scientists with many other awards and grants. The Future Insight Prize, which was announced in July 2018, was also created by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. It will be granted for the fourth time at the Curious2022 – Future Insight Conference in July 2022. This year’s prize of € 1 million will be granted to researchers working to fight climate change.


For more information please contact Gangolf Schrimpf

Laureates of the Emanuel Merck Lectureship




Prof John F. Hartwig


University of California, Berkeley, USA

Prof. Susumu Kitagawa


Kyoto University, JP

Prof. Jennifer Doudna (Nobel laureate 2020)


University of California, Berkeley, USA

Prof. Phil Baran


Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, USA

Prof. Paul T. Anastas


Yale University, New Haven, USA

Prof. Frances H. Arnold (Nobel laureate 2018)


California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA

Prof. Carolyn R. Bertozzi


University of California, Berkeley, USA

Prof. Axel Ullrich


Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie, Martinsried, Germany

Prof. Sir Harold W. Kroto (Nobel laureate 1996)


University of Sussex, Brighton, UK

Prof. George M. Whitesides


Harvard University, Cambridge, USA

Prof. Samuel J. Danishefsky


Columbia University, New York, USA

Prof. Stuart Schreiber


Harvard University, Cambridge, USA

Prof. Jean-Pierre Changeux


Institut Pasteur, Paris, France

Prof. Manfred Eigen (Nobel laureate 1967)


MPI Göttingen, Germany

Prof. Jean-Marie Lehn (Nobel laureate 1987)


University of Strasbourg, France

Prof. Kenneth Wade


University of Durham, UK

Prof. Albert Eschenmoser


ETH Zurich, Switzerland


About Emanuel Merck

Emanuel Merck (1794–1855) was a direct descendant of company’s founder Friedrich Jacob Merck, who had received a privilege for a pharmacy—later known as Engel-Apotheke—in Darmstadt in 1668. Emanuel Merck studied pharmacy in Berlin and Vienna. Following his studies, he worked at his father’s pharmacy, and in 1816 he took over its management. In addition to this, he was occupied with research on the chemical constitution of herbal natural materials where he isolated alkaloids and prepared them in a pure state.

In 1827 Emanuel Merck introduced what he called a “Novitäten-Kabinett” (“Cabinet of Novelties”). This contained a list of high-purity alkaloids (such as morphine) that he had isolated independently. It also included a booklet summarizing what was currently known about their chemistry, pharmacology, and information on synthesizing these substances.

Alkaloids tested the limits of an ordinary pharmacist’s capabilities. Although the pharmacopoeias contained information on these substances and how to make them, the finished products were not sufficiently pure, so their therapeutic use still posed a risk. While the only alkaloid that other German manufacturers were mostly producing was quinine, Emanuel Merck was interested in a much broader portfolio. An official report on the General German Industry Exhibition in 1842 observed: “In the unanimous opinion of experts, alkaloids surpassed anything produced by similar factories in size and purity.”

This unmatched level of purity, which Emanuel Merck attained in his work with alkaloids, then applied to all substances, became the company’s hallmark as formulated in its famous “Guarantee Policy”.

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About Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and electronics. Around 60,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2021, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, generated sales of € 19.7 billion in 66 countries.

The company holds the global rights to the name and trademark “Merck” internationally. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Electronics in electronics. Since its founding in 1668, scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to the company’s technological and scientific advances. To this day, the founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company.

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