Université de Strasbourg

Jean-Marie Lehn

Chair of Chemistry of Complex Systems

Jean Marie LehnJean-Marie Lehn is Professor at the University of Strasbourg Institute for Advanced Study (USIAS), Honorary Professor at the Collège de France in Paris and Emeritus Professor at the University of Strasbourg. In 1968, he achieved the synthesis of cage-like molecules (cryptands) containing a cavity (crypt) into which another entity, molecule or ion of specific nature, can be lodged, forming a cryptate. This work expanded into the investigation of the chemical basis of “molecular recognition” (the way in which a receptor molecule recognizes and selectively binds a substrate), which plays a fundamental role in biological processes. Over the years these studies led to the definition of a new field of chemistry, which he called “supramolecular chemistry”. It deals with the complex entities formed by the association of two or more chemical species held together by intermolecular forces.

In 1987, Jean Marie Lehn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, together with Donald Cram and Charles J. Pedersen.

Professor Lehn's work developed into the chemistry of self-organization processes, based on the design of "programmed" chemical systems that undergo spontaneous assembly of suitable components into well-defined supramolecular species, directed by the supramolecular processing of molecular information. More recently, the implementation of dynamic features and of selection led to the development of “constitutional dynamic chemistry”, concerning entities able to undergo reorganization in response to external stimuli, thus pointing to the emergence of an “adaptive and evolutive chemistry”.

Professor Lehn founded the Institut de Science et d’Ingénierie Supramoléculaires (ISIS) in Strasbourg in 2002. He has been involved in a large number of public and private boards and committees as well as participated in several start-up companies. As president of the non-governmental organization International Organization for Chemical Sciences in Development (IOCD), he aims, together with a group of dedicated colleagues, to contribute to helping chemists in developing countries. Author of more than 900 scientific publications and 2 books, Lehn is a member of many academies and institutions. He has received numerous international honours and awards, among them Officier de l’Ordre National du Mérite (1993), Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur (1996), Österreichisches Ehrenzeichen für Wissenschaft und Kunst, (first class) (2001) and the Grosses Verdienstkreuz mit Stern der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (2009).

See the introduction of Jean-Marie Lehn's lecture for "Passion for Knowledge", describing his passion for chemistry, "From matter to Life":

Read the article "Rational Enthusiasm" by Professor Lehn in Nature 478, October 2011: lehn-rational-enthusiasm-nature-2011.pdf

Investissements d'Avenir