Steven V. Ley

32nd Paul Karrer Lecture 2007

Aula der Universität Zürich

The medal was given in recognition of Professor Ley's contributions to chemical synthesis as related to natural and biologically active molecules

Steve Ley is currently the BP (1702) Professor of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, England.  He studied for his Ph.D. at Loughborough University working with Harry Heaney and then carried out postdoctoral work in the USA with Leo Paquette at Ohio State University.  In 1974 he returned to the UK to continue postdoctoral studies with Sir Derek Barton at Imperial College.  He was appointed to the staff at Imperial College in 1975 and was appointed to Professor in 1983 and Head of Department in 1989.  In 1990 he was elected to the Royal Society (London) and moved to Cambridge in 1992. He was the President of the Royal Society of Chemistry from 2000-2002.

Professor Ley's work involves the discovery and development of new synthetic methods and their application to biologically active systems.  The group has published extensively on the use of iron carbonyl complexes, organoselenium chemistry, the use of microwaves in organic chemistry, biotransformations for the synthesis of natural products and strategies for oligosaccharide assembly.  So far over 110 major natural products have been synthesised by the group.  The group is developing new methods and techniques in particular the use solid-supported reagents in a designed sequential and multi-step fashion in combination with advances in the use of scavenging agents and catch and release techniques or flow methods.  Some interesting advances have also been made in the development of new catalysts especially for asymmetric synthesis.  He was one of the inventors of TPAP a catalytic oxidant that is now used worldwide and cited extensively.

The published work of over 610 papers has been has been recognised by over 30 major awards which include the Hickinbottom Research Fellowship, the Corday Morgan Medal and Prize, the Pfizer Academic Award, the Royal Society of Chemistry Synthesis Award for 1989, the Tilden Lectureship and Medal, the Pedler Medal and Prize, the Simonsen Lectureship and Medal and the Aldolf Windaus Medal of the German Chemical Society and Göttingen University, the Royal Society of Chemistry Natural Products Award, the Flintoff Medal, the Paul Janssen Prize for Creativity in Organic Synthesis, the Rhône-Poulenc Lectureship and Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Glaxo-Wellcome Award for Outstanding Achievement in Organic Chemistry.  He was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Haworth Memorial Lectureship, Medal and Prize and The Royal Society Davy Medal and the German Chemical Society August-Wilhelm-von Hofmann Medal together with the Pfizer Award for Innovative Science.  He was awarded the C.B.E. in 2002 and the American Chemical Society Ernest Guenther Award for 2003.  He has recently been awarded the 2003 Royal Society of Chemistry Industrially-sponsored award in Carbohydrate Chemistry, the Chemical Industries Association Innovation of the Year Award and the iAc Award; both jointly with AstraZeneca, Avecia and Syngenta, 2004 Alexander-von-Humboldt Award, 2004 The Society of Chemical Industry Messel Medal and Lecture for 2004, 2005 the Yamada-Koga Prize and in 2006 the Robert Robinson Award and Medal (Royal Society of Chemistry) and the Nagoya Gold Medal (Banyu Life Science Foundation International, Japan).  In March 2007 he received the ACS prize for Creativity in Organic Synthesis.

  Additional distinctions and honours include FRSC (C.Chem), C. Biol. (F.I. BIol), C. Sci (Science Council) and F. Med. Sci (The Academy of Medical Scineces). He has been awarded honorary degrees and fellowships from five Universities.

Professor Ley has been the recipient of over 60 named lectureships and given 278 special invited lectures.  He has served on 37 national and international committees, 40 editorships and many industrial science advisory boards.