Giulio Natta Award Winner 2014

Dott. Robert H. Grubbs


Thanks to his scientific studies mainly focused on the synthesis and development of organic reaction catalysts, Professor Robert H. Grubbs (California Institute of Technology (Caltech) – CA, USA), obtained in 1992 a useful catalyst that is highly versatile and influenced the synthetic organic chemistry strongly and positively within few years. Professor Grubbs has developed a variety of ruthenium-based catalysts which earned him the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with the following reasons: “for developing the metathesis method in the organic synthesis”.

Metathesis or double exchange or double substitution, is a chemical reaction, in which one or more structure elements of a molecule go from one compound to another (e.g. AB+CD result in AD+BC, when reacting). Its application to the organic synthesis and, in particular, to the chemistry of olefin and acetylenic compounds, allowed new synthesis processes to be developed, that were never conceived before and are highly efficient and reduce the environmental impact significantly.

Metathesis processes of organic compounds based on Grubbs’ catalysts, are commonly used in chemical industry, especially to develop advanced pharmaceutical products and plastic materials.

Thanks to his contribution, organic synthesis methods have been developed and turned out to be more efficient, easier to use and sustainable for the environment. The reduction of potentially dangerous waste through more careful production, represents a paramount breakthrough for the “green chemistry”.

The development of catalysts for organic compound metathesis is an example of how important basic science and its subsequent applications are for the common good, society and environment.

The above-mentioned reasons clearly account for a great merit, for which Professor Robert H. Grubbs shall be awarded the 2014 Giulio Natta Award.


Robert Howard Grubbs

Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125 USA

(626) 395 6003

B.S., Chemistry, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 1963; M.S., Merle Battiste, 1965. Ph.D., Ronald Breslow, Chemistry, Columbia University, New York, New York, 1968. NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, James P. Collman, Chemistry, Stanford University, 1968-69. He is the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA, and faculty member since 1978. He was at Michigan State University from 1969 to 1978 achieving the rank of Associate Professor.

The Grubbs group discovers new catalysts and studies their fundamental chemistry and applications. Catalysts facilitate the transformation of organic molecules and are used widely in industry and academia for the preparation of important organic compounds and polymers. A family of catalysts for the interconversion of olefins, the olefin metathesis reaction has been discovered in the Grubbs laboratory. In addition to their broad usage in academic research, these catalysts are now used commercially to prepare new pharmaceuticals, composites for structural applications and for the conversion of biorenewable carbon sources into fuels and commodity chemicals. Catalysts for other useful transformations are also being developed and studied in detail.

His awards have included the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2005), Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry (2000), Pauling Award Medal 2003), Havinga Medal (2006) (Leiden University), Golden Plate Award (2006) (Academy of Achievement), Gold Medal of the American Institute of Chemists (2010) 8 ACS Awards including: Polymer Chemistry (1995), Arthur C. Cope Award (2002), Award for Creative Invention (2009), ACS Roger Adams Award in Organic Chemistry (2011). He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1989), Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1994), the Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2006), Fellows of the American Chemical Society (2009), ACS Polymer Division Fellow (2010), Gold Medal of the American Institute of Chemists, Chemical Heritage Foundation (2010). He has been awarded 7 honorary degrees, the most recent being an Honorary Degree of DSc from University of Warwick, Coventry (2010) and RWTH Aachen University Honorary Doctorate (Dr.rer.nat.h.c.) (2013). He has 560+ publications and 126+ patents based on his research.