Deutsch Intern
    Institute of Organic Chemistry

    Understanding the Rules of Life


    The Siegfried Hünig Lecture, this year presented by Professor Cynthia Burrows, once again demonstrated the importance of interdisciplinary research and an open scientific mind.

    Siegfried Hünig, Cynthia Burrows, Claudia Höbartner
    This year's lecturer Cynthia Burrows (middle) with Siegfried Hünig and the current Chair of Organic Chemistry I, Claudia Höbartner. (photo: C. Stadler)

    Back in the 1960’s, Siegfried Hünig already had realized that organic chemistry should not only focus on synthetic methodology. Being a physical organic chemist with a great interest in mechanistic studies he soon began to explore fields of great importance for today’s progress in supramolecular chemistry, as demonstrated by Sir J. Fraser Stoddart with his molecular machines (Nobel Prize 2016), and in materials science, as demonstrated by the Nobel Prize on conducting polymers in 2000.

    On 7 June 2018, Siegfried Hünig, now 97 years old, was happy to attend the lecture named after him for the 8th time and to listen to a fascinating talk given by physical organic chemist Cynthia Burrows, a highly decorated colleague from the University of Utah. Burrows’ highly interdisciplinary research is devoted to the chemistry and chemical biology of DNA and RNA bases.

    In Würzburg she talked about the “Yin and Yang of Guanine Oxidation” and how the subsequent damage in G-quadruplexes regulates gene expression. Chemists and biologists in the audience were both amazed at the elegance of her mechanistic approach to a topic that is so relevant to the understanding of cancer and the rules of life itself.

    By C. Stadler