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News Release
September 11, 2017
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Karen Tiano +49 6151 72 44461

Merck Announces $5,000 Grand Prize Winner of Alfred R. Bader Award for Student Innovation
  • Four student chemists awarded for innovation in synthetic organic chemistry
  • Grand prize winner Thomas McTeague from Massachusetts Institute of Technology selected based on research presentation at Bader Student Chemistry Symposium

Darmstadt, Germany, September 11, 2017 Merck, a leading science and technology company, recognized four student chemists for their research and innovations in synthetic organic chemistry as part of the Alfred R. Bader Student Chemistry Symposium at the company’s global headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany. At the close of the event, students presented their research to an audience of Merck staff and guests, and a panel of judges selected Thomas McTeague from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the $5,000 grand prize.

Following is a list of the finalists and their research topics:

  • Thomas McTeague, Photoredox Activation of SF6 for Fluorination, $5,000 grand prize winner, plus $500 prize winner.

Other winners of $500 prizes were:

  • Robynne Neff, Design and Development of a New Commercially Viable Pd(0)-Catalyst.
  • Keita Tanaka, Palladium-catalyzed Remote C–H Activation with Bifunctional Template.
  • Jennifer Matsui, Photoredox-Mediated Dual Catalysis and Metal-Free C–H Alkylation: Incorporating New Radical Precursors and Utilizing Complex Alkyltrifluoroborates for Late-Stage Functionalization.

“We’re proud to recognize young chemists and their innovative research,” said Udit Batra, Member of the Merck Executive Board and CEO, Life Science. “Novel compound discoveries in synthetic organic chemistry can transform pharmaceutical, agriculture, and manufacturing industries. As a longstanding leader and collaborator in the chemistry space, these discoveries align with our objective to continue fostering curiosity and accelerating innovation.”

McTeague’s presentation focused on his work to develop the ubiquitous SF6 gas into a more effective fluoride source for use in chemical synthesis. While fluorine-containing molecules constitute a disproportionate number of important agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, the introduction of fluorine through traditional methods can still be problematic. By using photoredox catalysis and taking the reaction into continuous flow, McTeague was ultimately successful in using SF6 to install fluorine in select organic molecules.

The Alfred R. Bader Award for Student Innovation competition was open to advanced graduate students (3+ years) in synthetic organic chemistry from around the world and recognizes the big ideas of up-and-coming chemists whose work is expected to accelerate progress in chemistry. The contest theme this year was the development of instrumentation broadly applicable to synthetic organic chemistry and the reactive use of current reagents, catalysts and ligands in methodology or total synthesis projects. The award is named for Sigma-Aldrich co-founder Alfred R. Bader.

For more than a decade, Merck has developed partnerships with academic chemists and their students in recognition of innovative chemistry through philanthropic contributions to the field.

About the Bader Awards

As a young chemistry graduate student, Alfred R. Bader valued service and selection. It was these ideals on which he cofounded the Aldrich Chemical Company in 1951. Bader sought to save research chemists time by providing quality standardized chemicals. He was one of the foremost chemical innovators of his time, and his legacy endures in the Sigma-Aldrich name and in many philanthropic designations and honors. Soon after cofounding Aldrich, Bader fostered global relationships with small chemical suppliers and his ever-innovative customers to grow his catalogue and company. The result was fast success and the development of one of the best-known chemical catalogues. In 1975, the company’s name changed to Sigma-Aldrich after a merger. Today, the name continues as part of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Bader’s commitment to collaboration with scientists, cutting-edge products, and outstanding quality endures in the dedication of current employees and outreach activities like the Alfred R. Bader Award for Student Innovation. More than a decade’s worth of chemistry graduate students have participated in the Alfred R. Bader Awards for Student Innovation. Over the years the prize amounts and application criteria have varied, but the awards have always recognized the work of up-and-coming chemists with big ideas. Previous awardees include Sigma-Aldrich partners Abby Doyle and Stephen T. Heller.

About Merck

Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2016, Merck generated sales of €15.0 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.