List, who was born in 1968 in Frankfurt and received his doctorate in 1997 from the Goethe University in Frankfurt, today is in charge of a team of 30 professionals at the Max Plank Institute in the German city of Mülheim an der Ruhr. Among them is Gerosa.
Rosario, who has family roots in Villa Amelia, focused her work on the green chemistry of organocatalysts and has “Ben” as her academic tutor. “We did not expect this recognition at all, in recent years the award was being awarded to subjects more related to biology and not to pure chemistry, it was all very unexpected”, highlighted The capital from the headquarters of the Max Plank Institute where he is doing his post-doctorate. The same building that last Wednesday was dyed with color and celebration to entertain the award-winning List.
The German researcher was on vacation with his wife in Amsterdam but upon receiving the news of the Nobel Prize, he quickly traveled to Mülheim an der Ruhr, where he was received with champagne and applause by the more than 300 members of the institute.
The excitement and pride of being part of the team are highlighted in every word from Gerosa. The bond with List began several years ago. After graduating in industrial chemistry at the local headquarters of the Universidad Católica de Argentina (UCA), he completed his doctorate at the Instituto de Química Rosario (Iquir) of the National University of Rosario (UNR) with Ariel Sarotti. In 2017, while she was pursuing her doctorate as a Conicet fellow, she applied for a Bunge y Born scholarship and traveled for six months to do a stay in the award-winning scientist’s laboratory.
List was also in Argentina. In 2019 he participated in Mendoza in the symposium of the National Society of Organic Chemistry (Sinaqo). Gerosa was already working alongside him at that time.
“I was always interested in green chemistry”
“I was always very interested in green chemistry. There are different types of organocatalysts, different molecules, different types of activation and reaction with the molecule, but these catalysts are organic ”, he explained. The advantage of using them is that “in addition to being green, they are more applicable to more compounds”.
Gerosa is proud of the training she achieved in the Iquir together with great professionals like Silvina Pellegrinet. Upon completing her doctorate, she chose the Max Planck Institute in Germany for her postdoctoral career, and List accepted her to join his work team. “I did my degree in industrial chemistry at the UCA in Rosario, I worked for a time in industry, and then I decided to do my doctorate with Ariel Sarotti’s group,” he said. Then he applied for a scholarship to do an instance in a Max Plank. As he did his doctorate in organocatalysis, he sent an email to List, who immediately accepted it.
“I was there for six months in 2017 and then I went back to Argentina. Two and a half years ago I returned to Germany to do my post-doctorate with Ben, “said Gerosa, who has a contract until March at the German institute. She said that she would love to continue developing in that team, although she is also open to all opportunities. that may appear.
The researcher is enthusiastic that, after the Nobel Prize, the discipline she studies “continues to grow”. Organocatalysis is considered more ecological and has the advantage of not using metals. “When it comes to synthesizing, preparing a drug, sometimes traces of metals can remain in the drugs and these metals can often be toxic. Sometimes one has to work extra to remove the traces that remain in the drug, that is why this development is considered greener, more environmentally friendly “Gerosa explained.
List and MacMillan were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis“, a new and ingenious tool for the construction of molecules, detailed the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences when releasing the award. This technique is used in” the research of new pharmaceutical products and has also helped to make chemistry more ecological “, the jury pointed out.
Catalysts are substances that control and accelerate chemical reactions, allowing the construction of molecules but without becoming part of the final product. For example, catalytic converters in cars transform toxic substances in exhaust gases into harmless molecules.
For a long time it was believed that there were only two types of catalysts: metals and enzymes. In 2000, List and MacMillan developed a third type of catalyst, alternative to the already known -metals and enzymes-, called asymmetric organocatalysis. It is based on “simple and ingenious” organic molecules, as defined by the Nobel Prize juries.
The Nobel Committee indicated that the work of both chemists had “taken molecular construction to a whole new level”. And they highlighted that asymmetric organocatalysis now allows the construction of asymmetric molecules at a higher speed than usual, which opened a field of multiple uses that range from new pharmaceutical products to experimentation with molecules that can capture light in solar cells.
The Academy added that this discovery has enabled molecular construction at several levels: not only has made chemistry greener, but has allowed the production of organic molecules in a more efficient way.
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Rosario Gabriela Gerosa is part of the team that won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry: “It was very unexpected”