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Setting The Record Straight

July 7, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 27

June 9, page 22: The antimicrobial agent used in W.S. Badger Co.’s recalled SPF 30 Baby Sunscreen Lotion and SPF 30 Kids Sunscreen Lotion was Arborcide OC and not Leucidal Liquid, according to Active Micro Technologies, the supplier of both products. The agents are both derived from Leuconostoc bacteria.

With reference to the mention of my original work on proline catalysis in the ACS national award vignette for Benjamin List, it is stated that “the reactions’ mechanics were ill defined, and they therefore had been widely viewed as exotic exceptions to the prevailing dogma that only enzymes and metal complexes can act as highly enantioselective, synthetically useful catalysts” (C&EN, March 17, page 49).

In other words, it seems the Hajos discovery slowed scientific progress. The fact is that despite early patent filing, it took five years before our paper was published in a prominent ACS journal in 1974. Eleven years later, Claude Agami and associates in Paris were the first to name this proline-catalyzed Robinson annulation the Hajos-Parrish reaction (Chem. Commun. 1985, DOI: 10.1039/c39850000441).

It is possible that a great number of researchers originally overlooked our discovery. This is most likely not because of ill-defined mechanisms but because it resulted from industrial rather than academic research. However, the real giants of synthetic organic chemistry did recognize its value and used it. One outstanding example is the posthumous paper of Robert Burns Woodward in the total synthesis of erythromycin (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1981, DOI: 10.1021/ja00401a049).

I wish to emphasize that at age 88 I am not seeking recognition, just unbiased reporting.

Zoltan G. Hajos
Monroe Township, N.J.



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