Institut de Chimie Moléculaire et des Matériaux d'Orsay

Laboratoire de Catalyse Moléculaire - LCM


Professeur Emerite
Equipe de Catalyse Moléculaire-ICMMO - Bât 420
Université Paris-Sud 11
15, rue Georges Clemenceau
91405 Orsay Cedex

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Henri Kagan graduated from Sorbonne (1954) and École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Paris (1954). He received a Ph.D (1960) under the supervision of Dr J. Jacques in College of France, Paris. He was research associate with Professor A. Horeau in College of France (1962-1967) with a leave of absence in 1965 to work in University of Texas at Austin (Botany Department, Prof. T. Mabry). In 1967 he was promoted Assistant Professor in University of Paris-South at Orsay and became full Professor in 1973. In 1968 he established a research group “ Laboratoire de Synthèse Asymétrique ”) in Orsay. He was appointed Professor at “ Institut Universitaire de France ” (1993-1999). He is presently (since 1999) Emeritus Professor at University Paris-Sud. He became member of French Academy of Science in 1991, foreign member of Polish Academy of Sciences in 1994 and of Academy of Bashkirtostan in 2000.
H. Kagan worked on modified steroids during his Ph.D. and started to investigate problems related to chirality during his collaboration with Prof. A. Horeau : absolute configuration of secondary alcohols by kinetic resolution (Horeau method), asymmetric synthesis of aspartic acid (ee 98%), one of the highest ee’s achieved by asymmetric synthesis at that time, in 1968), asymmetric synthesis by double asymmetric induction (1968). This concept was revisited and extended in 1985 by S. Masamune.
In Orsay H. Kagan gave the first example of asymmetric synthesis using circularly polarized light (CPL) by synthesizing helicenes (1971) He also realized kinetic resolution with CPL (1974), in confirmation of the pioneer work of W. Kuhn in 1929. He published the first example of a chiral bidentate diphosphine with the synthesis of DIOP in 1971. At this time it provided the highest ee’s in hydrogenation and was followed in literature by a cascade of syntheses of chiral diphosphines. It was also the first example of an efficient C2 symmetry ligand, and this stimulated the early development of asymmetric catalysis. He described the first example of a chiral “ homogeneous ” supported catalyst, by the synthesis and use of a DIOP fragment covalently bounded to a Merrifield resin (1973). He introduced in 1986 (in a joint work with Prof. Agami, Paris) the idea of nonlinear effects in asymmetric catalysis. He gave some mathematical models (1994) as well as some further examples. These effects are as now quite popular. In 1999 these concepts have been extended to kinetic resolution. In 1984 he modified the Sharpless reagent and obtained good results (90% ee) for asymmetric oxidation of sulfides by hydroperoxides. In 1996 a catalytic system was obtained. A modification of this oxidant system is now used in pharmaceutical industry to prepare enantiopure sulfoxides with anti-ulcer activity (omeprazol). Many efficient asymmetric syntheses of ferrocenes with planar chirality (ee> 98%) were developed since 1993. These syntheses are especially useful to prepare new ligands for asymmetric catalysis. Various approaches in organic synthesis have been also investigated, such as the use of reagents incorporated into graphite or the use of lanthanide derivatives. The first paper in this last area (1975) studied air oxidations catalyzed by some Ln(III) nitrates. In 1977 he set up a mild preparation of diiodosamarium and established its usefulness as reducing agent. This reagent became well known in organic synthesis. He was Visiting Professor in various places: Fort Collins, Colorado 1976; Austin, Texas 1980; Uppsala, Sweden 1988; Weizmann Institute, Israel 1988, Nagoya 2001-2003, ..
He was lecturer in many international conferences and universities: Pacific Coast lecturer (1987), Upper Rhine lecturer (1991), JSPS (Tokyo Institute of Technology (1977), University of Tokyo (1985). Université Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve, 1994. Le Bel lecturer (Strasbourg, 1997). Six times invited lecturer at a Gordon Conference. Centenary lecturer of RSC, 2000. Guest of Honour of the 35th ESF/EUCHEM Conference on Stereochemistry, (Bürgenstock, 2000), Sir Robert Robinson lecturer (Oxford 2001), H.C. Brown Symposium (Purdue 2001), BOS-2 (Vilnius 2002), 17th W.S. Johnson Symposium (Stanford, 2002), JSPS lecture tour (Japan 2001, 2002 and 2003), Chirality 2004 (New York), Raman lecturer (Calcutta 2005), Sandin lecturer (Edmonton, 2005).His awards include the Le Bel award (French Chemical Society, 1967), Cahours Award from French Academy of Science (1968), Silver medal of CNRS (1979), Raymond Berr award (1976), “ Rayonnement Français ” award (1989), Prelog medal (ETH Zürich, 1990), August-Wilhelm-von-Hofmann medal (Germany, 1991), Francqui Chair (Louvain-la-Neuve, 1994), Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite (1996), Yamada Prize (Tokyo, 1998), 1998 Chirality medal (14th ISCD, Vienna), Nagoya medal of Organic Chemistry (Nagoya, 1998), Tanaka award (International Precious Metals Institute, 1999), Tetrahedron prize for creativity in organic chemistry (1999), the Silver Medal of Centenary lecturer Award of the RSC (2000), Wolf prize in chemistry (2001), Great Prize of the la “ Fondation de la Maison de la Chimie ” (2002), JSPS Award for Eminent Scientists (2002), Chevalier de la Légion d’ honneur (Paris 2002), Ryoji Noyori prize (2002), Honorary Fellow of RSC (2003), Bower Award and prize for Achievement in Science (Franklin Institute, Philadelphia 2005), Horst-Pracejus Prize (GDCh, 2007), Burckhardt Helferich prize (University of Leipzig, 2012).? He is Guest Professor of Xian Military University (China, 1998) and of Zhejiang University (China, 2007), Doctor Honoris Causa of Bucarest University (1999), of Basilicata University (Potenza, 2004), and of Université de Montréal (2008).