Dieter Seebach was born in Karlsruhe in West Germany in 1937. He received B.Sc. and Ph.D. in chemistry at Karlsruhe University, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University, USA, and subsequent Habilitation at Karlsruhe University. He served as a lecturer at Harvard during his post-doctoral research. After habilitation, he became a professor of organic chemistry at the Justus Liebig Giessen University. In 1977, he was appointed professor at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH or Swiss Federal Institute) in Zurich, Switzerland. (He is currently professor emeritus at ETH).
Professor Seebach is a giant of contemporary organic chemistry. His work dramatically influenced the progress of organic synthesis, and resulted in more than 800 publications, more than 20 patents, over 950 invited lectures and numerous scientific awards. Seebach’s milestone contributions to the progress of organic chemistry include the development of novel synthetic methods, elucidation of the structure and function of biomolecular β-hydroxyalkanoates and the discovery of unusual β-peptides capable of undergoing diverse and stable secondary structures, which may have valuable applications in bioavailable drug candidates. Seebach supervised about 150 Ph.D. students and more than 100 post-doctoral fellows and was an invited professor at the universities of Maddison, Harvard, Cornel, Strasburg, Munich, Frankfurt, Johansburgh, Kaiserslautern, Canberra, Hong Kong, Japan, California, Institute of Technology and Max Plank Institute in Mulheim.
In addition to the King Faisal International Prize for Science, Professor Seebach was awarded 20 other prizes, as well as six medals, two honorary doctorate degrees from the Technical University in Munich and Montpellier University in France and fellowships or memberships in major scientific academies and societies in Europe and the USA. He is also a membere of editorial boards of several prestigious chemistry journals.
In 2004, the Swiss Chemical Society organized a symposium to discuss Seebach’s work, which was reported in Chimia (vol. 58; pages 321-324) under the title: Celebrating Dieter Seebach’s Contributions to Science: A Bitter Sweet Occasion.
Professor Dieter Seebach has been awarded the prize for their exceptional contributions in developing new methods for the preparation of chiral molecules and for the achievement of selective and efficient chemical synthesis. The pioneering work of Professor Noyori on asymmetric catalysis has profoundly altered many aspects of chemistry. Professor Seebach’s seminal contributions have led to new concepts in selective organic synthesis and in relating molecular structures to functions. Their outstanding contributions, which enable the manufacturing of new compounds, have enormous benefits for mankind, from agriculture to medicine.