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Stuttgart, Germany – This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to Benjamin List, Germany, and David MacMillan, USA, for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis. In 2013, Benjamin List published a two-volume work on this topic with Thieme. As Editor-in-Chief of the journal SYNLETT of Thieme Chemistry, he has been largely responsible for its content since 2015. Furthermore, he has been an active member of the editorial board of the journal SYNFACTS since 2006. David MacMillan is the author of several chapters in Science of Synthesis, Thieme's digital reference work for organic synthetic chemistry. For SYNLETT, he authored the paper ”Strategies to Bypass the Taxol Problem.” In 2006, he received the Thieme IUPAC Prize.

This press release is also available here: Chemistry Nobel Prize 2021 - Thieme Chemistry - Georg Thieme Verlag

Catalysts are substances that enable and accelerate chemical reactions but are not consumed in the reaction process itself. Therefore, catalysts are fundamental tools for chemists in research and industry. For a long time, only two types of catalysts were known: metal complexes and enzymes. In 2000, Benjamin List and David MacMillan independently developed a third possibility: The so-called asymmetric organocatalysis. For this achievement, both scientists have now been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021, which is endowed with a total of around 980,000 Euros.

”The laureates have developed a truly elegant tool for making molecules - simpler than one could ever imagine. It is already benefiting humankind greatly,” says Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede in the Nobel Committee's citation.

The process makes it possible to use small organic substances as catalysts and thus make the production of molecules cheaper, safer, and more environmentally friendly. For example, researchers can produce molecules needed for the production and development of pharmaceuticals more quickly and efficiently. Organocatalysis is now recognized worldwide as the third class of catalysis principles and has undergone rapid development since its introduction. Benjamin List and David MacMillan continue to be leaders in this field.

Nobel prize Laureate Benjamin List is director of the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in Mülheim an der Ruhr. In 2011, he joined the editorial board of SYNLETT, one of Thieme’s journals for chemical synthesis and has played a key role in shaping the journal as Editor-in-Chief since 2015. In 2013, he co-edited with Keiji Maruoka a two-volume edition on asymmetric organocatalysis as part of Thieme’s Science of Synthesis (SOS) Reference Library. He is also the mastermind and developer of the Select Crowd Review process, which combines up to date peer review with innovative technology. Select Crowd Review is used in SYNLETT and several other Thieme journals.

Benjamin List about publishing in the journal SYNLETT - YouTube

Nobel prize laureate David MacMillan is a professor at Princeton University, USA. As an expert in stereoselective synthesis, he has authored several chapters for Science of Synthesis, Thieme’s curated and digital reference work on synthetic organic chemistry. SOS addresses the information needs of organic chemists and is a helpful resource for all those involved in designing synthetic routes, whether for fundamental research purposes or teaching and/or learning, by providing trusted and reliable information on the best synthetic methods available. In 2006, he received the Thieme֪–IUPAC Prize, which is awarded every two years at the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry - International Conference on Organic Synthesis (IUPAC–ICOS).

You will find freely accessible articles by Benjamin List and David MacMillan here: Thieme E-Books & E-Journals -Synlett/ Edition (

About Thieme
Thieme is a leading supplier of information and services contributing to the improvement of healthcare and health. Employing more than 1,000 staff, the family-owned company develops products and services in digital and other media for the medical and chemistry sectors. Operating internationally with offices in 11 cities worldwide, the Thieme Group works closely with a strong network of experts and partners. The products and services are based on the high-quality content of Thieme’s 200 journals and 4,400 books. With solutions for professionals, Thieme supports relevant information processes in research, education, and patient care. Medical students, physicians, nurses, allied health specialists, hospitals, health insurance companies and others interested in health and healthcare are at focus of Thieme’s activities. The mission of the Thieme Group is to provide these markets with precisely the information, services, and products they need in their specific work situation and career. Providing top-quality services that are highly relevant to specific audiences, Thieme contributes to better healthcare and healthier lives.

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