75th Birthday: Jean-Marie Lehn

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  • Author: ChemViews
  • Published Date: 30 September 2014
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
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Jean-Marie Lehn was born on September 30, 1939 in Rosheim, France. He received his bachelor's degree from  the University of Strasbourg, France, and finished his PhD in organic chemistry in 1963 under Guy Ourisson at the National Center for Scientific Research (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS), France. After his PhD, he spent a year in the laboratory of Robert Burns Woodward at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA, where he took part in the total synthesis of Vitamin B12. Upon his return to Strasbourg, he began to work in the area of physical organic chemistry. In 1966, Lehn was appointed as maître de conférences (assistant professor) at the Chemistry Department of the University of Strasbourg. His main research topics were NMR studies of conformational rate processes, nitrogen inversion, quadrupolar relaxation, molecular motions and liquid structure, as well as ab initio quantum chemical computations of inversion barriers, of electronic structures and later on, of stereoelectronic effects. 


His research led to the inception of supramolecular chemistry, which instead of studying the bonds inside one molecule, looks at intermolecular attractions. Lehn received the Nobel chemistry prize in 1987 together with Donald J. Cram and Charles J. Pedersen for their work on the "development and use of molecules with structure-specific interactions of high selectivity". Lehn specifically was honored for his development of cryptands, three-dimensional multidentate ligands. His later research focuses on self-organization processes and constitutional dynamic chemistry.


Lehn was founding chairman of Chemistry  a European Journal, created in 1995 and today co-owned by the 16 European chemical societies who form ChemPubSoc Europe, was a board member of Angewandte Chemie, and serves as Honorary Chairman of the Editorial Advisory Board of ChemistryOpen. He was involved in the scientific planning of ISIS institute (Institut de Science et d’Ingénierie Supramoléculaires) inaugurated in December 2002. In his private time, he cultivates his interest in music.


Jean-Marie Lehn is the answer to Guess the Chemist (33)


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