12 March 1999

"Georg Wittig Lectureship": BASF Funds Guest Professorship at the University of Heidelberg

Dr. Stefan Marcinowski, BASF: "This guest professorship is a way for us to under-line our good relations with the University of Heidelberg" — Rector Prof. Dr. Juergen Siebke: a way of recognizing the University's research accomplishments in the field of chemistry

Under the auspices of a BASF Guest Professorship, in fall 1999 a distinguished researcher from the field of chemistry will be invited to Heidelberg University to give lectures and hold a special colloquium. The professorship was agreed upon by Dr. Stefan Marcinowski, Member of the Board of Executive Directors and Research Spokesman at BASF, and Professor Dr. Juergen Siebke, Rector of the University. The guest professorship will be part of the Department of Organic Chemistry and will bear the name "Georg Wittig Lectureship – BASF Guest Professorship in Chemistry at the University of Heidelberg." Professor Siebke indicated that the lectureship was a way of recognizing the University's research accomplishments in the field of chemistry.

Dr. Marcinowski noted that "This guest professorship is a way for us to under-line our good relations with the University of Heidelberg." He explained that BASF was funding the chair as an expression of its support for excellence in university-level research and teaching. The idea to establish the guest professorship came from Prof. Dr. Peter Hofmann, a full professor in the University of Heidelberg Department of Organic Chemistry and one of Professor Wittig's successors. "The Georg Wittig Lectureship is conceived as a major scientific award. It will allow us to attract an outstanding, internationally pro-minent researcher to present lectures," said Dr. Hofmann, who will coordinate the lectures. The selection of the visiting professor and the honoree will be made jointly by the executive committee of the Department of Organic Chemistry and the BASF Research Spokesman.

From 1956 to 1967 Georg Wittig (1897-1987) was a full professor at the Department of Organic Chemistry of the University of Heidelberg, In 1979 he, along with H. C. Brown of Purdue University, received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Dr. Wittig was active in the fields of organic and organometallic chemistry. One of the discoveries that brought recognition to Dr. Wittig, for example, was his discovery of the "ylides". These chemical substances play an important role in the "Wittig reaction" which is named for Dr. Wittig. This reaction provides an elegant way of synthesizing complex olefins. According to Dr. Marcinowski, "there was some very successful cooperation between BASF and Prof. Wittig in this area." And to this day the name Wittig can still be read on a reactor at a vitamin plant at the Ludwigshafen site. Prof. Wittig's name refers to the reaction to produce vitamin A that was being run in the reactor. Today, BASF is the world's second largest manufacturer of vitamins.

The "Wittig reaction" developed into a widely used method to link carbon atoms. It holds a permanent position in the repertory of organic chemical synthesis, which is why chemistry students (and not just those at the University of Heidel-berg) can expect to be asked in their examinations about ylides and the "Wittig" reaction.

For further information please contact:
Dr. Eckhard Parzich
Tel. +49 621 60 20905, Fax +49 621 60 21997
E-mail: eckhard.parzich@msm.basf-ag.de

or: Dr. Michael Schwarz
Universität Heidelberg
Tel. +49 6221 542311, Fax +49 6221 542317
E-mail: michael.schwarz@rektorat.uni-heidelberg.de

Page maintained by Pressestelle der Universität Heidelberg,
Copyright © Pressestelle der Universität Heidelberg.
Updated: 15.03.99