ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry

In cooperation with the American Chemical Society (ACS), scientists are honored for their outstanding work in synthetic organic chemistry.

About the Award

We recognize and encourage inspiring and unique activities in synthetic organic chemistry with the annual ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. The recipients are honored at the national award banquet in conjunction with the ACS National Meeting.

Established in 1957, MilliporeSigma (formerly known as Aldrich Chemical Company) assumed sponsorship of the award in 1976. Today, MilliporeSigma (a business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany) is an active gold sponsor due to Sigma Aldrich’s longstanding initiative and commitment to advancement in chemistry and its continuous support of the scientific community.

This award is an early recognition for the best chemists in the world, testified by the fact that several past laureates went on to receive a Nobel prize. Examples include 1983 awardee K. Barry Sharpless (Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla; Nobel prize in 2001), who received the Nobel prize "for his work on chirally catalysed oxidation reactions" and 2010 awardee Ei-ichi Negishi (Purdue University, West Lafayette; Nobel prize later in the same year), who was honored for his achievements in organic synthesis.

Key Facts

The award is administered by the American Chemical Society. For details regarding the eligibility criteria and the nomination rules and guidelines, see here.

  • Award: USD 5,000
  • Cycle: Annual
  • Nomination deadline (via ACS): November 1
  • Award ceremony: The recipients are honored at the national award banquet in conjunction with the ACS National Meeting.

About 2023 Award Winner

In 2023, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany was again pleased to sponsor the ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry, given this year to Prof. Peter Wipf from the University of Pittsburgh. He was awarded for "the discovery of innovative methods in heterocyclic and
strain-release chemistry and the development of novel strategies to synthesize complex natural and unnatural molecules". 

Wipf on his most memorable project: “Two of my students discovered serendipitously an early-transition-metal-mediated cascade reaction that introduced nine new C–C bonds. When we thought about possible mechanisms, we speculated that a bicyclo[1.1.0]butane might serve as a key intermediate. Amazingly, this actually turned out to be the case, and it started a still ongoing, most stimulating research effort on the chemistry of bicyclobutanes in my lab.” 

What Wipf’s colleagues say: “Peter’s work has contributed significantly to virtually every aspect of modern organic synthesis. He is one of the scientific leaders in this field, and dozens of his novel small molecules are used as probe molecules for biological pathways and as therapeutic lead structures.”—Dennis Curran, University of Pittsburgh 

Read more about the 2023 awardee at: 

ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry
Prof. M. Christina White

List of recent Award Winners




Distinguished project


Peter Wipf 

University of Pittsburgh 

Discovery of innovative methods in heterocyclic and strain-release chemistry and the development of novel strategies to synthesize complex natural and unnatural molecules 

2022 Richmond Sarpong University of California, Berkeley For the development of new strategies for the chemical synthesis of complex molecules based on C-H and C-C bond functionalization
2021 Jonathan A Ellman Yale University Inventing the landmark tert-butanesulfinamide approach to stereoselective synthesis, pioneering C-H bond functionalization reactions, and for defining the field of combinatorial small molecule synthesis
2020 Michael Krische University of Texas at Austin Developed a broad class of “C-C bond forming transfer hydrogenations”, notably, the reaction enables direct alcohol CH-functionaliztion, avoiding the often-necessary alcohol-to-aldehyde redox step.
2019 M. Christina White University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Pioneering work in the development of site-selective C–H functionalization chemistry for complex molecule synthesis and late-stage functionalization.


Brian M. Stoltz

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

Development of efficient methods, particularly cascade reactions, that allow for the efficient synthesis of complex organic molecules.


Matthew S. Sigman

University of Utah, Salt Lake City

Innovative contributions to the Wacker oxidation and Heck reaction.


Scott J. Miller

Yale University, New Haven

Discovery of minimal peptidic catalysts for important enantioselective and site-selective reactions.


F. Dean Toste

University of California, Berkeley

Development and mechanistic understanding of novel catalytic concepts in organic chemistry


Amir H. Hoveyda

Boston College, Boston

Creating “molecular masterpieces” in the areas of catalyst design through aesthetically pleasing transformations and development as well as total synthesis of complex natural products.


Erick M. Carreira

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH), Zürich

Creative development of new methods, total synthesis of natural

products, and use of synthesis to probe biology


Gregory C. Fu

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

Contributions to metal-catalyzed cross-coupling and Heck methodology and enantioselective catalysis.


David W. C. MacMillan

Princeton University, Princeton

Devising the novel strategy of using simple organic molecules, such as chiral amines, as asymmetric catalysts for highly enantioselective synthesis.


Ei-ichi Negishi

Purdue University, West Lafayette

Nobel prize in 2010 "for palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis."


Hisashi Yamamoto

University of Chicago, Chicago

Development of designer catalysts and reagents for organic synthesis.

List of all Award Winners

2019 M. Christina White, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2018 Brian M. Stoltz, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
2017 Matthew S. Sigman, University of Utah, Salt Lake City
2016 Scott J. Miller, Yale University, New Haven
2015 F. Dean Toste, University of California, Berkeley
2014 Amir H. Hoveyda, Boston College, Boston
2013 Erick M. Carreira, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH), Zürich
2012 Gregory C. Fu, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
2011 David W. C. MacMillan, Princeton University, Princeton
2010 Ei-ichi Negishi (Nobel Prize in 2010), Purdue University, West Lafayette
2009 Hisashi Yamamoto, University of Chicago, Chicago
2008 Masakatsu Shibasaki, University of Tokyo, Tokyo
2007 Steven V. Ley, University of Cambridge, Cambridge
2006 Stephen L. Buchwald, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge
2005 Chi-Huey Wong, Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla
2004 Tohru Fukuyama, University of Tokyo, Tokyo
2003 Scott E. Denmark, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana and Champaign
2002 Andrew G. Myers, Harvard University, Cambridge
2001 Eric N. Jacobsen, Harvard University, Cambridge
2000 Dennis P. Curran, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh
1999 Dale L. Boger, Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla
1998 Paul A. Wender, Stanford University, Stanford
1997 Amos B. Smith, III, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
1996 Teruaki Mukaiyama, Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla
1995 Larry E. Overman, University of California, Irvine
1994 Stuart L. Schreiber, Harvard University, Cambridge
1993 K. C. Nicolaou, Rice University, Houston
1992 Dieter Seebach, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH), Zürich
1991 Paul A. Grieco, Montana State University
1990 Clayton H. Heathcock, University of California, Berkeley
1989 Sir Derek H. R. Barton, Texas A&M University, College Station
1988 Robert E. Ireland, Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla
1987 Harry Wasserman, Yale University, New Haven
1986 Samuel J. Danishefsky, Columbia University, New York City
1985 Albert I. Meyers, Colorado State University, Fort Collins
1984 Leo A. Paquette, Ohio State University, Columbus
1983 K. Barry Sharpless (Nobel Prize in 2001), Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla
1982 David A. Evans, Harvard University, Cambridge
1981 Barry M. Trost, Stanford University, Stanford
1980 Yoshito Kishi, Harvard University, Cambridge
1979 George A. Ola, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
1978 Satoru Masamune, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge
1976 Franz Sondheimer (Nobel Prize in 1965), University College London, London
1975 Herbert O. House, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge
1974 Edward C. Taylor, Princeton University, Princeton
1973 George H. Büchi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge
1972 Bruce Merrifield (Nobel Prize in 1984), Rockefeller University, New York City
1971 Elias J. Corey (Nobel Prize in 1990), Harvard University, Cambridge
1970 Eugene E. van Tamelen, Stanford University, Stanford
1969 H. Gobind Khorana, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge
1968 Theodore L. Cairns, DuPont, Wilmington
1967 Gilbert J. Stork, Columbia University, New York City
1966 William von E. Doering, Harvard University, Cambridge
1965 Donald J. Cram (Nobel Prize in 1987), University of California, Los Angeles
1964 Lewis H. Sarett, Merck Sharp & Dohme
1963 Nelson J. Leonard, University of Illinois
1962 Charles R. Hauser, Duke University, Durham
1961 Melvin S. Newman, Ohio State University, Columbus
1960 Herbert C. Brown (Nobel Prize in 1979), Purdue University, West Lafayette
1959 John C. Sheehan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge
1958 William S. Johnson, Stanford University, Stanford
1957 Robert B. Woodward (Nobel Prize in 1965), Harvard University, Cambridge