German-Japanese Symposium

© Peter Winandy

The 2018 SeleCa Symposium – a key event in the nine-year collaboration in catalyst research between Osaka University and RWTH.


As part of the joint research activities of the International Research Training Group Selectivity in Chemo- and Biocatalysis (SeleCa), a collaborative venture between RWTH and Osaka University, about 100 delegates came together at RWTH Aachen University to discuss fundamental aspects of chemical and biological catalytic processes. The meeting represents a highlight in the nine-year collaboration of the Japanese and German scientists.

Rapidly changing global conditions and the imminent depletion of the fossil feedstock require substantially improved catalysts for selective transformation to ensure the sustainable production of chemicals. The International Research Training Group aims at understanding and developing efficient and selective catalytic processes. As part of the German-Japanese collaborative venture, 19 research groups from both universities and two associated groups from Forschungszentrum Jülich are concerned with the selective synthesis of highly functionalized molecules.


In his welcome address, RWTH Rector Ulrich Rüdiger emphasized the significance of the research program for the internationalization of the University. The General Consul of Japan, Masato Iso, and Professor Katsuyoshi Kondoh from Osaka University both highlighted the importance of the transnational research collaboration for the long-term cooperation and intercultural exchange between both countries: the transition to the use of renewable natural resources cannot be solved at the national level.

Guest speakers included Nobel Prize laureate and RWTH honorary doctor Richard R. Schrock from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Manfred T. Reetz from the Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung, both of whom have provided scientific support to the research training program. While Schrock reported on efficient syntheses of highly functionalized molecules using olefin metathesis, Reetz provided an overview of the progress made in the directed evolution of enzymes for selective transformations.

The topic of selected evolution, which has recently gained attention due to the award of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Frances Arnold, is one of the key topics in the SeleCa, focusing on biohybrid catalysts. The research activities of the group in the fields of molecular catalysis as well as enzyme and biotechnology have led to more than 40 doctoral dissertations and more than 200 publications in international scientific journals.

Spokespersons for the DFG-funded International Research Training Group are Professor Jun Okuda, Chair of Organometallic Chemistry at RWTH Aachen University, and Professor Kazushi Mashima, Osaka University.

Source: Press and Communications


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