A great distinction for a chemist from the University of Münster: the European Research Council (ERC) has awarded Dr. Manuel van Gemmeren an ERC Starting Grant worth 1.5 million euros. The research project that van Gemmeren will lead over the coming five years, belongs to the field of organic chemistry. Since 2016, the researcher and his working group at Münster University have been studying so-called C’H-functionalizations - chemical reactions by means of which C’H-bonds, which are typically non-reactive, can be converted directly into complex target structures. “Such methods are important for the development of sustainable chemical value chains, especially for the synthesis of complex organic compounds,’ Manuel van Gemmeren explains. “These compounds can then be used as active agents for example in medicines,’ he adds.
The ERC project
The aim of the funded project - “DULICAT: Dual Ligand-Enabled Palladium Catalysis: Unlocking Novel Reactivities and Selectivities in Aromatic C’H Activation? - is the development of efficient synthetic methods for the activation of aromatic C’H-bonds. The challenges involved are, in particular, the low reactivity of the starting materials and the competition between several similarly reactive positions on the molecule. As a result, it is initially difficult to induce a reaction at all, and the reaction subsequently has to be steered in order to selectively obtain one of a variety of possible products. To this end, van Gemmeren and his team use a new design principle by which palladium catalysts with previously unattainable reactivities and selectivities can be generated.
The ERC Starting Grants provide financial support for young, innovative researchers who want to build up their own, independent research group. The ERC Consolidator Grant and the ERC Advanced Grant are two more of the ERC’s funding lines. At the University of Münster there are numerous researchers who have recievied one of these grants from the European Research Council.
Manuel van Gemmeren
Manuel van Gemmeren, who was born in Madrid in 1985, studied Chemistry at the University of Freiburg. After gaining his doctorate at the Max Planck Institute of Coal Research in Mülheim an der Ruhr, he was a post-doc from 2015 to 2016 at the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ) in Tarragona, Spain. Since 2016 he has been heading an independent junior researchers group at the Institute of Organic Chemistry at the University of Münster which was initially supported through an Otto Hahn Award from the Max Planck Society, and is since 2020 funded through the German Research Foundation’s Emmy Noether Programme.