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23 June 2003

Bangalore and Heidelberg: The Chemistry is Right

Leading Indian scientist, Prof. Dr. Goverdhan Mehta, teaching and researching at the Institute of Organic Chemistry, University of Heidelberg

The synthesis of complex natural substances from simple, easily accessible modules is the goal that Prof. Dr. Goverdhan Mehta, one of India's leading scientists, has set himself. Prof. Mehta is director of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore and also the present President of the Chemical Research Society of India. In 1995 he was the first Indian scientist to receive the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award.

As Mercator Visiting Professor, Professor Mehta will be forging even stronger links between the Department of Organic Chemistry at IISC and the Institute of Organic Chemistry at the University of Heidelberg, where he is engaged in research on small bowl-shaped molecules called peristylenes in the framework of Prof. Gleiter's research group. The aim of these concerted efforts is to find out more about their structure and the way they react to form larger units. From the "bowls" themselves to those larger units, which like enzymes can contain other molecules, it is only a small step.

In part, the work of synthesis is being carried out in Heidelberg. In addition, there are plans to study the structure and the bonding potential of peristylenes. The sojourn in Heidelberg leaves Prof. Mehta sufficient time to immerse himself in the ongoing research concerns of Heidelberg's chemistry departments and to attend the Forum of Molecular Catalysis taking place next Friday.

Alongside his research work, Prof. Mehta is also doubly involved in teaching at the Institute of Organic Chemistry. He is giving a lecture course on "Total Synthesis of Natural Products of Contemporary Interest" and also offering a seminar on "Design of New Molecular Objects and Entities". In this way, Heidelberg benefits from the originality and the teaching skill Prof. Mehta has already displayed as a visiting professor at American, British, French and Japanese universities.

For Prof. Mehta it is a matter of minutes from the chemical institutes to the guest-house of the University on Neuenheimer Feld campus, where he and his wife are staying during their three-month sojourn in Heidelberg.

Prof. Mehta has joined Prof. Gleiter's research group on a former occasion, between May and July 2000, when he received the Humboldt Award. And he will back again soon, for a two-month teaching and research stint at the beginning of the winter semester 2003/4. This will cement the links with the Indian Institute of Science, in the interests not least of the German and Indian students working towards a doctorate in chemistry.

Please address any inquiries to
Prof. Dr. Rolf Gleiter
Organisch-Chemisches Institut
Universität Heidelberg
phone: 06221/548400, fax: 544205

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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