Professor Steven V Ley of the Cambridge University (UK) was awarded this year’s Heinrich Wieland Prize in appreciation of his extraordinary scientific achievements in the fields of synthesis, structural analysis and biological effects of natural compounds.
The award endowed with €50.000 was given to him at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich today. Since 1964, the Heinrich Wieland Prize has been awarded annually to promote innovative research on chemistry, biochemistry, physiology and clinical medicine of lipids and other biologically active substances.
Professor Ley’s innovative research comprises the total syntheses of more than 120 compounds -mostly of specific biological activity and covers a wide field of organic chemistry. An important project of his is the synthesis of five members of the Thapsigargin family. These molecules are even in low concentrations excellent inhibitors of the calcium pump of cellular organelles and serve as probes in the study of intracellular information paths all over the world.
Recently, Professor Ley concluded the synthesis of the marine natural compounds Bengazole A and B, a new class of lipophilic molecules, which possess antifungal activity. The recent synthesis of the insect-antagonising natural compound Azadirachtine caused attention and was the final result of 22 years of research. Ley’s synthesis of the immunosuppressive and tumor-antagonising compound Rapamycine contributed to his worldwide reputation.
In addition to these methods, designed for the synthesis of natural compounds, Professor Ley developed numerous techniques for the production of pharmaceutical lead structures. His contributions to the green chemistry, which reduces or eliminates the use and generation of hazardous substances impress just as much. Worldwide Steven V. Ley is known as pioneer in the development of automatised synthesis and leading in this area of research. He developed micro- and macro-flow reactors, which are essential for and therefore revolutionised multi-step chemical syntheses.
Prof. Leys methods are broadly used in the pharmaceutical industry to speed up the development of new lead structures. As a result medications are sooner available for patients. Steven V. Ley’s versatile chemistry and its importance for industry and science make him one of the most excellent chemists of our time.