40 Years of the Giacomo Ciamician Medal

40 Years of the Giacomo Ciamician Medal

Author: ChemistryViews

In 1979, the Medaglia Giacomo Ciamician of the Organic Chemistry Division of the Società Chimica Italiana (SCI) was first awarded to honor the significant contributions of outstanding organic chemists at the early stage of their career in Italy. The award recognizes the originality, creativity, vision, and innovative contributions of rising stars in organic chemistry in Italy. The first Giacomo Ciamician Medal was given to Luigi Mandoloni, Roma, University, Italy, in 1979. Most recently, the prize was awarded to Luka Dordevic, currently at Northwestern University, USA, and Cristian Pezzato, currently at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne – EPFL, Switzerland.

Giacomo Ciamician (1857 – 1922) was an Italian chemist. He solved the structure of pyrrole, synthesized it from succinimide and synthesized many derivatives of pyrrole, including iodol (tetraiodopyrrole) as a substitute for iodoform. The Ciamician-Dennstedt rearrangement, a pyrrole ring extension, is named after him and Max Dennstedt, a collaborator in his laboratory, as is the Ciamician-Plancher rearrangement and the Ciamician photo-disproportionation (rearrangement of 2-nitrobenzaldehyde to 2-nitrosobenzoic acid). 

Giacomo Ciamician was known for his inspiring and prophetic visions of where chemical research is heading. In 1912, he published an essay in Science outlining his vision of an ecologically clean photochemical industry of the future based on bioorganic chemistry. In his editorial, Gianluca Farinola, Università degli Studi di Bari “Aldo Moro”, Italy, compares Ciamician’s belief in the contribution of the chemical sciences to human progress and well-being with the timeless attitude of young researchers to courageously tackling visionary projects. Gianluca Farionola finds that more than a century later, Ciamician’s words still describe the fascination for the complexity of organic chemistry and the vivid perception of its extraordinary richness that continue to inspire and motivate passionate young organic chemists today. According to Giacomo Ciamician, to succeed in organic chemistry, various qualities are required, namely “fantasy and chemical intuition, together with unrivaled experimental ability and special inspiration, similar to those animating the mind and the hand of an artist”.

In celebration of the medal’s 40th anniversary, the European Journal of Organic Chemistry together with the Organic Chemistry Division of the SCI publishes a series of minireviews from previous prize winners. Gianluca M. Farinola, who served as president of the SCI Organic Chemistry Division from 2017 to 2019, is the Guest Editor of the special issue.


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