François Diederich (1952 – 2020)

François Diederich (1952 – 2020)

Author: (Photo: Mario Müller)

Professor François Diederich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, passed away on September 23, 2020. He was a well-known organic chemist, with research interests including molecular recognition in chemistry and biology, modern medicinal chemistry, supramolecular nanosystems, and carbon-rich materials. He will be remembered as mentor and brilliant teacher. 

François Diederich, born in Ettelbruck, Luxembourg, in 1952, studied chemistry at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, where he received his Ph.D. in 1979. He was a Postdoctoral Researcher with Orville L. Chapman at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA, from 1979 to 1981, and then served as a Research Associate at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg. He returned to UCLA as Acting Associate Professor in 1985 and was promoted to Full Professor in 1989. Starting in 1992, he served as Professor of Organic Chemistry at ETH Zurich, where he continued as an active researcher after his retirement in 2017.

Among other honors, Diederich received the Otto Hahn Medal from the Max Planck Society in 1979, the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 1992, the Janssen Prize for Creativity in Organic Synthesis in 2000, the Humboldt Research Prize in 2005, the August Wilhelm von Hofmann Medal from the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh, German Chemical Society) in 2006, the ACS Ronald Breslow Award for Achievements in Biomimetic Chemistry in 2007, the Adolf von Baeyer Medal of the GDCh in 2011, an honorary doctoral degree from the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), Haifa, Israel, in 2012, and an Honorary Membership from the GDCh, the society’s highest honor, in 2019.

Diederich was a Chemistry Europe Fellow, a Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences, and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany, as well as a Foreign Associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He was a Member of the GDCh Board of Directors from 2008 to 2015 and Vice-President of the society in 2011/2012. Diederich also served on the Supervisory Board of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany, and on the Editorial Boards of Angewandte Chemie (1995–2013) and Chemistry – A European Journal and on the International Advisory Boards of Angewandte Chemie (from 2014), ChemMedChem, and Chemistry – An Asian Journal (2006–2017).

Selected Publications

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