Angewandte Chemie International Edition

Cover image for Vol. 56 Issue 40

Editor: Peter Gölitz, Deputy Editors: Neville Compton, Haymo Ross

Online ISSN: 1521-3773

Associated Title(s): Angewandte Chemie, Chemistry - A European Journal, Chemistry – An Asian Journal, ChemistryOpen, ChemPhotoChem, ChemPlusChem, Zeitschrift für Chemie

Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh)

and Wiley-VCH, publishers

cordially invite you to the

Angewandte Festsymposium

Henry Ford Building of Freie Universität Berlin
September 11, 2017
(part of WiFo 2017)

Register now Registration is now open via the WiFo website. Register now.

If you cannot make it to Berlin, please join the virtual event, live and on-demand video on

A special issue of Angewandte is produced for the symposium, with contributions from the speakers.
Browse now (English)
Lesen Sie mehr (Deutsch).


... include four Nobel Laureates!


Welcome addresses by Thisbe K. Lindhorst (President, GDCh), Peter-A. Alt (President, FU Berlin), Alois Fürstner (Chairman of the Ed. Board, Angewandte Chemie)


Jack Szostak (N)
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston (USA)

From Chemistry to Life: How Did It Happen?

The earliest living cells must have had very simple structures in order to emerge spontaneously from the chemistry of the early earth. We are attempting to synthesize such simple artificial cells in order to discover plausible pathways for the transition from chemistry to biology. Very primitive cells may have consisted of a self-replicating nucleic acid genome, encapsulated by a self-replicating cell membrane. A chemically rich environment that provided the building blocks of membranes, nucleic acids and peptides, along with sources of chemical energy, could have led to the emergence of replicating, evolving cells. We have recently described robust pathways for the coupled growth and division of primitive cell membranes composed of fatty acids, which were likely to have been available prebiotically. However, no process for the replication of a nucleic acid genome, independent of evolved enzymatic machinery, has yet been described. I will discuss our recent progress towards the realization of an efficient and accurate system for the chemical replication of RNA. Finally, I will discuss the chemical and physical considerations that favor an origin of life scenario involving ponds or lakes in a geothermally active environment.


Thomas Carell
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (Germany)

DNA Bases beyond Watson and Crick

Epigenetic information is stored in the form of modified bases in the genome. The positions and the kind of the base modifications determines the identity of the corresponding cell. Setting and erasing of epigenetic imprints controls the complete development process starting from an omnipotent stem cells and ending with an adult specialized cell. I am going to discuss results related to the function and distribution of the new epigenetic bases 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (hmC), 5-formylcytosine (fC), 5-carboxycytosine (caC) and 5-hydroxymethyluracil (Scheme 1). These nucleobases seem to control epigenetic programming of cells and establish genetic programmability. Synthetic routes to these new bases will be discussed that enable the preparation of oligonucleotides. The second part of the lecture will cover mass spectroscopic approaches to decipher the biological functions of the new bases. In particular, results from quantitative mass spectrometry, new covalent-capture proteomics mass spectrometry and isotope tracing techniques will be reported. Finally I am dicussing potential prebiotic origins of modified bases.

Scheme 1: Depiction of the new epigenetic bases.


Kenichiro Itami
Nagoya University (Japan)

Making Structurally Uniform Nanocarbons and a New Form of Carbon

Nanocarbons conduct electricity, absorb and emit light, and exhibit interesting magnetic properties. Spherical fullerene C60, cylindrical carbon nanotubes and sheet-like graphenes are representative forms of nanocarbons, and theoretical simulations have predicted a number of exotic three-dimensional nanocarbon structures. At present, however, synthetic routes to nanocarbons mainly lead to mixtures of molecules with a range of different structures and properties, which cannot be easily separated or refined into pure forms. Some researchers believe it is impossible to synthesise these materials in a precise manner. Obtaining "pure" nanocarbons is a great challenge in the field of nanocarbon science, and the construction of structurally uniform nanocarbons—ideally as single molecules—is crucial for the development of functional materials in nanotechnology, electronics, optics, and biomedical applications. In this talk, our organic chemistry approach toward making structurally uniform nanocarbons and a new form of carbon will be presented.




 Award Ceremony: GDCh Karl Ziegler Prize for Matthias Beller (Laudatio: Paul Knochel)


Jürgen Kaube
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany)

Große gesellschaftliche Herausforderungen und die Wissenschaft

Zunehmend versucht die Wissenschaftspolitik Forschung über große Themensetzungen zu steuern. Es werden "challenges" bezeichnet, denen sich die Gesellschaft wahlweise die Weltgesellschaft, Europa oder die Bundesrepublik gegenüber sieht. Und es wird die Wissenschaft aufgefordert, ihre Forschung auf diese Herausforderungen zu beziehen (z.B. Nachhaltigkeit, demographischer Wandel, Nahrungsmittelversorgung, saubere Energie, Sicherheit, intelligente Transportsysteme, um nur einige Stichworte aus "Horizon 2020" der EU zu nennen). Der Vortrag fragt danach, wie sinnvoll solche Themenkataloge sind, welche Folgen sie haben und ob sie die Bedeutung der Wissenschaft für die Gesellschaft, in der wir leben, überhaupt berühren.


Robert Grubbs (N)
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena (USA)

Development of Selective Olefin Metathesis Catalysts

Olefin Metathesis has become a tool for the synthesis of complex organic molecules and materials. The key to the development of these applications has been the discovery and study of organometallic complexes that will efficiently catalyze the reaction in the presence of standard functional groups. The next advances resulted from the development of more selective catalysts and complexes that show high turnover numbers in important transformations. Over the past several years two families of complexes have been developed that produce high Z selectivity in the cross metathesis of terminal olefins. Some of these catalysts now produce Z olefins in >95 Z at >95% conversions with high turnover numbers. The next challenge is to produce a catalyst that produces olefins with high E selectivity. In addition to their use in organic synthesis, many of the catalytic complexes also serve as initiators for living polymerization. A number of brush–block copolymers that assemble into well-ordered structures can be prepared using these initiators. Although there are now a number of commercial processes based on olefin metathesis, others will only become possible with even more selective and efficient catalysts.


 Lunch break


François Diederich
Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Zürich (Switzerland)

Structure-Based Drug Design: From Deciphering Weak Intermolecular Interactions to New Agents against Infectious Diseases

We pursue a unique multi-dimensional approach towards deciphering and quantifying weak intermolecular interactions in chemical and biological systems. Experimental study involves investigation of protein-ligand interactions, synthetic host-guest complexation, and unimolecular model systems. It is complemented by computational analysis and database mining in the Cambridge Crystallographic Database (CSD) and the Protein Data Bank (PDB). Examples of intermolecular interactions quantified by this approach are orthogonal interactions between bond dipoles, organofluorine interactions, π-stacking on peptide amide bonds, cationπ interactions, halogen bonding, and chalcogen bonding. We also investigate the energetically favorable replacement of conserved water molecules, seen in protein co-crystal structures, by ligand parts. This highly collaborative approach greatly benefits structure-based drug design, as illustrated by examples from our research on new infectious disease targets.


Petra Schwille
Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie, Martinsried (Germany)

How Simple Could Life Be

In spite of our increasingly precise understanding of the details of life, its fundamental principles still lay in the dark. We intuitively distinguish living from non-living systems, and we can formulate their necessary features, such as metabolism and self-replication. But we still haven't been able to formulate a predictive theory of how life may emerge from any of its constituents, as would be required for a truly fundamental understanding. Since all the organisms we study have originated from other ones, it has so far been impossible to reconstitute a transition from non-living to living states of matter, although it is widely believed that exactly this transition must have occurred at least once. Armed with today's knowledge and technology about living systems, it is high time for us to re-address this persistent challenge in understanding nature.


William E. Moerner (N)
Stanford University (USA)

Light and Single Molecules Open a New Window Into the Nanoscale and Biomolecular Dynamics

More than 25 years ago, low-temperature experiments aimed at establishing the ultimate limits to optical storage in solids led to the first optical detection and spectroscopy of a single molecule in the condensed phase. At this unexplored ultimate limit, many surprises occurred such as spectral diffusion/blinking and light-driven control of emission. The years of work on single molecules at room temperature led to a huge array of further advances by many researchers worldwide, including the surprising observation of blinking and switching of single green fluorescent protein variants. In 2006, PALM and related approaches showed that the optical diffraction limit of ~200 nm can be circumvented with single molecules to achieve super-resolution (SR) fluorescence microscopy. Essential to this is the combination of single-molecule imaging with active control of the emitting concentration and sequential localization of single fluorescent labels. SR microscopy has opened up a new frontier in which biological structures and behavior can be observed with resolutions down to 20-40 nm and below, and critical work continues to address optical and chemical challenges.




Ben L. Feringa (N)
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (The Netherlands)

Light on Health, a Bright Future

The biomolecular machinery that sustains life is a great source of inspiration to design dynamic and responsive functional molecular systems. Can we make smart drugs that can be delivered and activated exclusively at the disease spot? In this lecture I will discuss different approaches currently taken to address some of basic challenges associated with dynamic molecular systems. In particular the use of light offers bright and unconventional opportunities. Light is a non-invasive signal and can be delivered with high precision in space and time. The principles and opportunities of photo-pharmacology will be discussed. Light allows the on-off switching of the activity of a therapeutic agent, as will be illustrated for antibiotics and antitumor drugs. New synthetic methodology towards tracers for molecular imaging is also shown. Other possibilities include potential systems for drug delivery based on self-assembled and light-responsive nano-tubes and vesicles. In the final part of this voyage fundamental principles of autonomous propelling systems are presented that might ultimately form the basis for the roving sensors.

M. M. Lerch, M. J. Hansen, G. M. van Dam, W. Szymanski, B. L. Feringa, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 10978-10999; Angew. Chem. 2016, 128, 11140-11163


Frank Neese
Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Energiekonversion, Mülheim (Germany)

Perspectives for Theoretical Chemistry: From Enzymes to Materials

The fields of biological, homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis are progressing at a fast rate. A thorough understanding of the catalytic mechanisms is of paramount importance in the design of future, improved catalysts. Quantum chemistry can aid in various ways in this endeavor: 1) calculations of reaction mechanisms can serve to formulate working hypotheses that can be experimentally, 2) calculation of physical observables (foremost spectroscopic properties) can be used to identify critical reaction intermediates and 3) calculations provide insight into the electronic structure origins of the observed reactivity. In recent years, we have developed efficient quantum chemical tools to calculate reactions mechanisms, spectroscopic properties and also to analyze elaborate wavefunctions in chemical terms. In our applications we are aiming at bridging the gap between the established fields of catalysis. The talk will highlight the general philosophy of our approach and illustrate it with recent application examples.


David Leigh
Manchester University (United Kingdom)

The Magic of Molecular Machines

In recent years some of the first examples of synthetic molecular level machines and motors—all be they primitive by biological standards—have been developed. Perhaps the best way to appreciate the technological potential of controlled molecular-level motion is to recognise that nanomotors and molecular-level machines lie at the heart of every significant biological process. Over billions of years of evolution Nature has not repeatedly chosen this solution for achieving complex task performance without good reason. In stark contrast to biology, none of mankind's fantastic myriad of present day technologies exploit controlled molecular-level motion in any way at all. When we learn how to build artificial structures that can control and exploit molecular level motion, and interface their effects directly with other molecular-level substructures and the outside world, it will potentially impact on every aspect of functional molecule and materials design. An improved understanding of physics and biology will surely follow.


Farewell address

Wissenschaftsforum der GDCh, 10.-14.9.2017


Chemistry for Our Future. Tel Aviv, Israel, 2017

Bioorganic Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Siliguri, India, 2016

125 Years of Angewandte Chemie. Berlin, Germany, 2013

Inorganic Solid-State Chemistry and Nanomaterials. Busan, Rep. of Korea, 2012

50 Years of Angewandte Chemie International Edition. Tokyo, Japan, and Beijing, China, 2011