I let out a muffled “aha” when I read George I. Fujimoto’s letter regarding the impact the Fujimoto-Belleau reaction had on R. B. Woodward’s total synthesis of cortisone (before Sir Robert Robinson, but that is another “aha” story) (C&EN, June 21, page 4). For organic chemists, there is a direct cerebral cascade among name reaction-chemical structure-mechanisms that, for many of us, continues to succeed in information retrieval without Googling.
An industrial chemist alerted me to Fujimoto’s independent discovery when I was about to call it the Belleau reaction in my introductory remarks on this great Quebécois chemist upon my receipt of the Belleau Award of the Canadian Society for Chemistry. In the back of my memory bank was a trace that I had taught this reaction in senior undergraduate courses and, upon checking my (handwritten) notes, I was happy to find it—however, unnamed.
Thanks to Carmen Drahl for an insightful and lively article and for giving me an opportunity to trace some of the history of the Mizoroki-Heck reaction.