Akira Suzuki

  • Japanese scientist
  • Born September 12, 1930

I learned many things from Professor Brown, including his philosophy toward research, but there is one thing he said that I recall with particular clarity: 'Do research that will be in the textbooks.' It is not easy to do such work, but this has remained my motto.

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.

The concept of serendipity often crops up in research. Serendipity is the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things that were not being sought. I believe that all researchers can be serendipitous.

The palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling reaction between different types of organoboron compounds and various organic electrophiles including halides or triflates in the presence of a base provides a powerful and general methodology for the formation of carbon-carbon bonds.

Carbon-carbon bond formation reactions are important processes in chemistry because they provide key steps in building complex, bio-active molecules developed as medicines and agrochemicals.

Carbon-carbon bond formation reactions employing organoboron compounds and organic electrophiles have recently been recognized as powerful tools for the construction of new organic compounds.

The coupling of aryl halides with copper at very high temperature is called the Ullmann reaction, which is of broad scope and has been used to prepare many symmetrical biaryls. However, when a mixture of two different aryl halides is used, there are three possible biaryl products.

Our case, we used the organometallic compounds. Additionally, we need one important element, that is base. Without base, the acidic coupling reaction using organoboron compounds cannot proceed nicely. So, that is very important point in our cross-coupling reaction.

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.

A resource-poor country like Japan can only rely on people's endeavor and knowledge. I would like to continue my effort to provide help to younger people.

To my disappointment, not many young people seem to be interested in science, especially chemistry.