Otto-Hahn Forschungsgruppe - Dr. Manuel van Gemmeren

Die Max-Planck-Gesellschaft eröffnet besonders herausragenden Preisträgerinnen und Preisträgern der Otto-Hahn-Medaille die Möglichkeit, im Anschluss an einen Auslandsaufenthalt die Leitung einer kleinen Forschungsgruppe zu übernehmen. Sie dürfen sich ein Max-Planck-Institut aussuchen und dort ein eigenes Forschungsprojekt durchführen. Die Auszeichnung soll den Weg für eine längerfristige Wissenschaftskarriere in Deutschland ebnen.

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

Dr. Manuel van Gemmeren
Leiter der Gruppe 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)


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.


Selected Publications

  • 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  ([+] = equal contribution).
  • 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 ([+] = equal contribution).
  • O. Lifchits, M. Mahlau, C. M. Reisinger, A. Lee, C. Farès, 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.

Full list of publications

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.