Otto Hahn Group - Dr. Manuel van Gemmeren

The Max Planck Society provides a small number of recipients of the Otto Hahn Medal each year with the opportunity, following on from a stay abroad, to head a small research group (formerly Otto Hahn Groups) at a Max Planck Institute of their choice. The group leader is free to design a research project thus enabling him or her to continue his or her career in Germany.

Dr. Manuel van Gemmeren - Catalyst Controlled Selective Transformations and Ligand Design

Dr. Manuel van Gemmeren
Head of Group Catalyst Controlled Selective Transformations and Ligand Design


Study of Chemistry Albert-Ludwigs Universität Freiburg (2005-2010)
Dr. rer. Nat. Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung and Universität zu Köln (2014)
Postdoc Institut Català d’Investigació Química (ICIQ) (2015-2016)
Junior Group Leader Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (since 2016)
Junior Group Leader Otto Hahn Research Group; MPI CEC; Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (since 2017)

Short Bio

Manuel van Gemmeren studied chemistry at the Albert-Ludwigs Universität in Freiburg from 2005 to 2010. Subsequently, he moved to the Max-Planck-Institute für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim to join Prof. Dr. Benjamin List as a doctoral student. He received his doctorate (summa cum laude) from the Universität zu Köln in 2014. He then joined the group of Prof. Dr. Ruben Martin at the ICIQ in Tarragona (Spain) as a Feodor-Lynen fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation from 2015 to 2016. In 2016 he returned to Germany to start an independent research group at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster, which was supported by a Feodor-Lynen Return Fellowship. In September 2016 he was granted a Liebig Fellowship by the Fonds der Chemischen Industrie. In June 2016 Manuel van Gemmeren was awarded the Otto Hahn Award (2015) of the Max Planck Society, which enables the recipient to head a small research group at a Max Planck Institute. He joined the CEC as the head of an Otto Hahn Junior Research Group of the Max Planck Society in 2017. Through a collaboration between the MPG and the University in Münster, the Otto Hahn group "Catalyst Controlled Selective Transformations and Ligand Design" is located at the Organic Chemistry Institute in Münster.


Download: Publications list (.pdf)


  • Chen, H., Mondal, A., Wedi, P., van Gemmeren, M. (2019). Dual Ligand-Enabled Nondirected C–H Cyanation of Arenes ACS Catalysis 9, 1979-1984.
  • Ghiringhelli, F., Nattmann, L., Bognar, S., van Gemmeren, M. (2019). The Direct Conversion of α-Hydroxyketones to Alkynes The Journal of Organic Chemistry 84(2), 983-993.



  • C. Lichtenberg, M. van Gemmeren, 20. Steinheimer Gespräche – diesmal in Wiesbaden, Nachr. Chem. 2017, 65, 939-939.
  • K. K. Ghosh, M. van Gemmeren, Pd-Catalyzed β-C(sp3)–H Arylation of Propionic Acid and Related Aliphatic Acids, Chem. Eur. J. 2017, 23, 17697-17700.
  • M. van Gemmeren, M. Börjesson, A. Tortajada, S.-Z. Sun, K. Okura, R. Martin, Switchable Site-Selective Catalytic Carboxylation of Allylic Alcohols with CO2, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 56, 6558-6562.
  • D. Höfler, M. van Gemmeren, P. Wedemann, K. Kaupmees, I. Leito, M. Leutzsch, J. B. Lingau, B. List, 1,1,3,3-Tetratriflylpropene (TTP): A Strong, Allylic C-H Acid for Brønsted and Lewis Acid Catalysis, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 2017, 56, 1411-1415.


  • C. Zarate, M. van Gemmeren, R. J. Sommerville, R. Martin, Phenol Derivatives: Modern Electrophiles in Cross-Coupling Reactions, Adv. Organomet. Chem. 2016, 66, 143-222
  • Z. Zhang, H. Y. Bae, J. Guin, C. Rabalakos, M. van Gemmeren, M. Leutzsch, M. Klussmann, B. List, Asymmetric counteranion-directed Lewis acid organocatalysis for the scalable cyanosilylation of aldehydes, Nat. Commun. 2016, 7:12478.
  • F. Juliá-Hernández, M. Gaydou, E. Serrano, M. van Gemmeren, R. Martin, Ni- and Fe-catalyzed Carboxylation of Unsaturated Hydrocarbons with CO2, Top. Curr. Chem. 2016, 374, 1-38.
  • T. Gatzenmeier, M. van Gemmeren Y. Xie, D. Höfler, M. Leutzsch, B. List, Asymmetric Lewis acid organocatalysis of the Diels–Alder reaction by a silylated C–H acid, Science 2016, 351, 949-952


  • T. James, M. van Gemmeren, B. List, Development and Applications of Disulfonimides in Enantioselective Organocatalysis, Chem. Rev. 2015, 115, 9388-9409.
  • J. Guin, Q. Wang, M. van Gemmeren, B. List, The Catalytic Asymmetric Abramov Reaction, Angew. Chem. 2015, 127, 362-365; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 355-358.
  • K. Hyodo, S. Gandhi, M. van Gemmeren, B. List, Brønsted Acid Catalyzed Asymmetric Silylation of Alcohols, Synlett 2015, 1093-1095.


  • Q. Wang, M. van Gemmeren, B. List, Asymmetric Disulfonimide‐Catalyzed Synthesis of δ‐Amino‐β‐Ketoester Derivatives by Vinylogous Mukaiyama–Mannich Reactions, Angew. Chem. 2014, 126, 13810-13813; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 13592-13595.
  • L. Ratjen, M. van Gemmeren F. Pesciaioli, B. List, Towards High‐Performance Lewis Acid Organocatalysis, Angew. Chem. 2014, 126, 8910-8914; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 8765-8769
  • M. van Gemmeren, F. Lay, B. List, Asymmetric Catalysis Using Chiral, Enantiopure Disulfonimides, Aldrichimica Acta 2014, 47, 3-13.
  • A. Martínez, M. van Gemmeren, B. List, Unexpected Beneficial Effect of ortho-Substituents on the (S)-Proline-Catalyzed Asymmetric Aldol Reaction of Acetone with Aromatic Aldehydes, Synlett 2014, 961-964.
  • A. Martínez, K. Zumbansen, A. Döring, M. van Gemmeren, B. List, Improved Conditions for the Proline-Catalyzed Aldol Reaction of Acetone with Aliphatic Aldehydes, Synlett 2014, 932-934.
  • B. List, I. Čorić, O. O. Grygorenko, P. S. J. Kaib, I. Komarov, A. Lee, M. Leutzsch, S. C. Pan, A. V. Tymtsunik, and M. van Gemmeren, The Catalytic Asymmetric α‐Benzylation of Aldehydes, Angew. Chem. 2014, 126, 286-289; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 282-285.


  • Q. Wang, M. Leutzsch, M. van Gemmeren, B. List, Disulfonimide-Catalyzed Asymmetric Synthesis of β3-Amino Esters Directly from N-Boc-Amino Sulfones, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 15334-15337.
  • O. Lifchits, M. Mahlau, C. M. Reisinger, A. Lee, C. Fare s, I. Polyak, G. Gopakumar, W. Thiel, B. List, The Cinchona Primary Amine-Catalyzed Asymmetric Epoxidation and Hydroperoxidation of α, β-Unsaturated Carbonyl Compounds with Hydrogen Peroxide, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 6677-6693.
  • M. Mahlau, B. List, Asymmetric Counteranion‐Directed Catalysis: Concept, Definition, and Applications, Angew. Chem. 2013, 125, 540-556; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 52, 518-533.


  • M. Mahlau, P. García-García, B. List, Asymmetric Counteranion‐Directed Catalytic Hosomi–Sakurai Reaction, Chem. Eur. J. 2012, 18, 16283-16287.
  • M. Mahlau, B. List, Asymmetric Counteranion‐Directed Catalysis (ACDC), in Asymmetric Synthesis II: More Methods and Applications (Ed. M. Christmann, S. Bräse), Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2012, P. 79-84.
  • M. Mahlau, B. List, Asymmetric Counteranion‐Directed Catalysis (ACDC): A Remarkably General Approach to Enantioselective Synthesis, Isr. J. Chem. 2012, 52, 630-638.


  • M. Mahlau, R. A. Fernandes, R. Bruckner, First Synthesis of the Pyrano‐Naphthoquinone Lactone (–)‐Arizonin C1, Eur. J. Org. Chem. 2011, 4765-4772.

Catalyst Controlled Selective Transformations and Ligand Design

In the van Gemmeren Research Lab we are interested in the development of Catalyst Controlled Selective Transformations and Ligand Design. Our motivation derives from the observation that for many chemical processes the respective scopes are limited by the inherent preferences of the substrates employed or even restricted to specifically engineered substrate classes. This is particularly true in such timely research areas as C-H activation methodologies, but also extends to classical cross-coupling techniques and other synthetic organic methodologies. Our goal is to tackle such selectivity challenges and, for example, enable novel reactivity by controlling and switching the chemoselectivity of a process (making a typically less reactive functional group react in the presence of a typically more reactive one) or by overriding inherent preferences in the regio- and stereoselectivity of a reaction. To achieve these goals, the group targets the rational design of novel ligands, catalysts or reagents, which will exploit non-covalent interactions known from organocatalysis and molecular recognition, to induce an enzyme-like pre-organization of the substrates. Additionally, the group will make use of the cutting-edge screening technologies available at the institute in the optimization of the methodologies developed.

Ultimately, the research conducted in the van Gemmeren Research Lab aims to open up for novel approaches towards valuable chemical compounds that would otherwise not be accessible with a comparable efficiency.

The Otto Hahn research group is affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion and is located at the Organic Chemistry Institute of the WWU Münster.

At the moment we are growing our team of highly qualified and motivated scientist. Candidates interested in joining the group are highly welcome to contact Dr. Manuel van Gemmeren.