Thiel Award 2024 goes to Philipp Hartmann

PhD student of the Ritter group honored for his publication with “Nature Chemistry”

February 16, 2024

Philipp Hartmann, PhD candidate in the group of Prof. Tobias Ritter, has been awarded the Thiel Award. Each year the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung honors a young talent in the field of chemistry with this prestigious prize. 

Chemically modifying proteins plays a key role in investigating biological processes and gaining a better understanding of the structure of the proteins themselves. However, the task is not trivial. In his work "Chemoselective umpolung of thiols to episulfoniums for cysteine bioconjugation", published in the journal Nature Chemistry, PhD student Philipp Hartmann from the Department of Organic Synthesis has shown how an amino acid can be elegantly turned into a versatile reaction partner. For this achievement, the young scientist has now been honored with the Thiel Award of the Max Planck Institute für Kohlenforschung.

"The Max Planck Institute presents the Thiel Award once a year," explains Prof. Frank Neese, Managing Director of the Institute. With this award, named after the Institute Director Walter Thiel, who died suddenly in 2019, the Kohlenforschung always honors a special young talent in the field of chemistry. "That would have been entirely in line with Walter Thiel's wishes," emphasizes Neese, "because Walter was always very committed to promoting young chemists."

Contributing to investigations of complex biological systems

In his keynote speech, Philipp Hartmann describes, among other things, how thianthrenium chemistry, as developed in the Department of Organic Synthesis under the direction of Prof. Dr. Tobias Ritter, can help to specifically modify building blocks of proteins such as the amino acid cysteine. According to the young chemist, this method could contribute to the investigation and quantification of complex biological systems in the future.

The presentation of the Thiel Award is traditionally an important part of an institute seminar - an event that primarily aims to encourage the many young researchers at Kahlenberg to look beyond their own horizons and engage with the projects of their colleagues.

And so many Kohlenforschung scientists listened to the second lecture of the day, which this time was given by the new group leader at the institute, Guanqi Qiu. The young scientist, who has been setting up her independent research group at the Kohlenforschung since November, is particularly interested in the intrinsic properties of reactions - in other words, those aspects that happen independently of thermodynamics.

"Take the opportunity, be inspired - and perhaps there will be one or two opportunities for new collaborations," said Neese to the many international scientists who attended the seminar.

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