Université de Strasbourg
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies
School of Soft Matter Research
79104 Freiburg im Breisgau
Jean-Marie LEHN was born in Rosheim, France in 1939. Lehn earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Strasbourg in 1963, and in 1970 he became a professor of chemistry at Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg. From 1979 to 2010 he was professor at the College de France in Paris and director of the Supramolecular Chemistry Laboratory in Strasbourg. He continues presently to direct this laboratory as Professor Emeritus at the University of Strasbourg.
Expanding on his work on molecular recognition, Lehn was led to the definition of a new field of chemistry, which he has proposed calling “supramolecular chemistry” as it deals with the complex entities formed by the association of two or more chemical species held together by non-covalent intermolecular forces, whereas molecular chemistry concerns the entities constructed from atoms linked by covalent bonds. Subsequently, the area developed into the chemistry of "self-organization" processes and more recently towards "adaptive chemistry".
In 1987 Jean-Marie, together with Charles J. Pedersen and Donald J. Cram, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their development and use of molecules with structure-specific interactions of high selectivity. This chemical basis of “molecular recognition” (i.e. the way in which a receptor molecule recognizes and selectively binds a substrate) also plays a fundamental role in biological processes.