We explore small-molecule amines as asymmetric catalysts for carbonyl transformations. “Asymmetric Aminocatalysis” functions by activating carbonyl compounds as iminium ions and enamines using a catalytic amount of an amine. Our strategy complements existing catalytic methods based on chiral acids and bases that typically involve metals. After our studies on the first asymmetric proline-catalyzed intermolecular aldol reaction in 2000, we realized that enamine catalysis has the potential to be a general strategy for the catalytic utilization of carbanion equivalents. Since then, we have discovered several other transformations that can be catalyzed by primary or secondary amines. Currently, our research aims towards the synthesis and identification of new catalyst structures to tackle further exciting and challenging problems and to discover new amine-catalyzed transformations.

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