This lectureship was created in 2004 to recognize visionary leadership in the field of organometallic chemistry, and to honor the contributions of Richard F. Heck. Heck is best known for developing the palladium-mediated coupling of an aryl halide or vinylic halide with an alkene, the reaction that bears his name. His early mechanistic studies led to the current understanding of the Pd(0)/Pd(II) cycle of oxidative addition and reductive elimination, by which carbon-X bonds are catalytically converted to carbon-carbon and carbon-hetero bonds. His investigations laid the groundwork for many of the catalytic organometallic bond forming processes currently in use in modern organic synthesis.
Beyond development of the Heck reaction, Heck made additional contributions that were seminal. He was the first to elucidate the mechanism of any catalytic organometallic reaction— the Co-catalyzed hydroformylation reaction. He was the first to characterize a pi-allyl metal complex. He also developed the Pd-catalyzed transfer hydrogenation reaction using ammonium formate, and the Pd-catalyzed method for coupling alkynes with arylhalides to produce arylacetylenes.
Richard Heck retired in 1989 from the University of Delaware, where he is the Willis F. Harrington Professor Emeritus.
The Heck Lecture has been made possible through the generous support of Astra Zeneca.