Helmut Werner studied Chemistry at the University of Jena and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and received his PhD in 1961 from the TUM with Professor Ernst-Otto Fischer. Following postdoctoral research with John Richards at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, he finished in 1966 his Habilitation at TUM. In 1968, he joined the faculty at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, where he became Full Professor in 1970. In October 1975 he was appointed Professor and Head of the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Wurzburg, where he was Dean of the Faculty from 1987 to 1989 and the Chairman of an Interdisciplnary Research Unit from 1990 to 2001.
Werner’s research interests are in the area of synthetic and mechanistic organometallic chemistry, mainly of the transition metals of groups 8 to 10. The years at Munich and Zurich were highlighted by the synthesis oft he first borazene-transition metal complexes and the first triple-decker sandwiches. Notable research themes at Wurzburg include the chemistry of dinuclear sandwich complexes containing metal-metal bonds, the concept of metal basicity, the use of electron-rich complex fragments to activate organic substrates and stabilise small reactive molecules and metalla-cumulenes. Lately, he reported the preparation of the first dinuclear metal complexes with phosphines, arsines and stibines in a truly doubly-bridging position.
Werner has been a visiting professor at Cambridge, Santiago, Toulouse and Zaragoza Universities. His contributions to chemistry have been recognised by several awards including the Pacific West Coast Inorganic Lectureship (1987), the Alfred-Stock-Preis of the German Chemical Society (1988), the Centenary Medal and Lectureship of the Royal Society of Chemistry (1993), the Max-Planck-Forschungspreis (1994), the Paolo Chini Memorial Lectureship of the Italian Chemical Society (1995), the J. C. Mutis-A. von Humboldt award (1996,) and the Gordon Stone Lecture (2004). Since 1988 he has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften Leopoldina. He was awarded a Doctor of Science honoris causa by the University of Zaragoza (2001) and the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena (2006).
The title of Fischer-Wilkinson Lecture will be: „50 Years of Organometallic Chemistry: From Sandwiches, Tripeldeckers and Beyond“