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Akira Suzuki

1930 –


Awarded Nobel Prize in 2012 for "for palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis"

“I was born on September 12, 1930, in Mukawa – a small town in Hokkaido, Japan. I attended primary school there and entered a secondary school in Tomakomai, which is home to one of the biggest paper companies in Japan. At high school, I was interested in mathematics. Consequently, when I entered Hokkaido University in Sapporo, I wanted to learn more about the subject. In my freshman year, I became interested in organic chemistry after reading Textbook of Organic Chemistry by L. F. Fieser and M. Fieser. Finally, I decided to major in organic chemistry.

“The title of my doctoral thesis was Synthesis of the Model Compounds of Diterpene Alkaloids. In the study, I used organometallic compounds, Grignard reagents and organozinc compounds as synthetic intermediates and realized that organometallic compounds are interesting and versatile intermediates for organic synthesis. After completing the PhD program at Hokkaido University’s Graduate School of Science in 1959, I was employed as a research assistant in the Chemistry Department. Two years and six months later in October 1961, I was invited to become an assistant professor of the Synthetic Organic Chemistry Laboratory at the newly founded Synthetic Chemical Engineering Department in the Faculty of Engineering. In April 1973, I succeeded Professor H. Otsuka of the Third Laboratory in the Applied Chemistry Department. In total, I have spent 35 years at Hokkaido University as a staff member – 2 and a half in the Faculty of Science, and the other 32 and a half in the Faculty of Engineering. Other than about two years of study in America and a few months in other places overseas, most of my life has been spent at the Faculty of Engineering. Including my nine years as a student, the majority of my life has been at Hokkaido University. After my retirement from the university in 1994, I served at two private universities in Okayama Prefecture – Okayama University of Science and Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts – before retiring from university work in 2002.”

-          Akira Suzuki


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