Organic Stereochemistry in Croatia and Prelog School
Vitomir Šunjić and Krunoslav Kovačević
Concept and Targets of the Project
Presentation of history and achievements of organic stereochemistry in Croatia is an open-ended Project. It intends to fill the long-standing gap in information on achievements of stereoselective synthesis and study of properties of chiral, optically pure compounds by the generations of Croatian organic chemists, known in Croatia as “Prelog School” or “Prelog’s Zagreb School”, an exceptional phenomenon on the national level.
There are two crucial aspects of this project. The first one envisages a non-profitable edition of the printed copies of the book, to be donated or delivered to relevant institutions in Croatia and abroad. The second one concerns unrestricted approach to the online open access version. Both editions will be available free of charge, according to the concept of most effective delivery and dissemination of the information on history and achievements of organic stereochemistry in Croatia.

Book chapters
  1. Introduction  
    1. Short overview of V. Prelog’s contribution to asymmetric synthesis
    2. Organic Chemistry in Croatia before V. Prelog
    3. Prelog and science of organic chemistry in Croatia
    4. Early stereoselective syntheses of natural products and congeners in Croatia
    5. Basic principles of stereoselective reactions
    6. Enantioselective processes and kinetic control
  2. Asymmetric catalytic reactions  
    1. Asymmetric organometalo-catalytic hydrogenation
      1. Chiral diphosphine ligands from monosacharides
      2. Chiral phosphine ligands acting by “back door” asymmetric induction
      3. Axially chiral monophosphine ligands
        1. Asymmetric hydrogenation
        2. Asymmetric allylic substitution
        3. Stereochemistry of skeletal rearrangement of aldoses
      4. Asymmetric cyclopropanation
        1. Asymmetric, stoichiometric approach to C–X bond (X = C,N,O) in the three membered rings
    2. Asymmetric organocatalysis
      1. Asymmetric organocatalytic kinetic resolution and desymmetrization
      2. Organocatalysis in asymmetric C–C bond forming reactions
      3. Organocatalytic asymmetric reactions and confined chiral Brønsted acids
    3. Asymmetric biocatalytic reactions
      1. Biocatalytic kinetic resolution by lipases
      2. Biocatalytic desymmetrization of meso-compounds by lipases
      3. Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE); enantioselective inhibitor and chiral biocatalyst
      4. Biocatalytic asymmetric reduction
      5. Halohydrin dehalogenase; on the route to enzyme catalyzed dynamic kinetic resolution
  3. Chiral separations  
    1. Enantioseparation by partition
    2. Chiral column chromatography
      1. Separation of axially chiral compounds with low optical stability
      2. Development of “brush-type” chiral stationary phases
  4. Chiral molecular and supramolecular structures  
    1. Stereoselective transformations in the series of cyclohexane carboxylic acids and pyrimidine nucleosides
    2. Chiral monomers and polymers, research at INA R&D Institute
    3. Chiral 1,4-benzodiazepines, chiroptical properties
    4. Asymmetric syntheses of β-lactams
    5. Axially- and centro-chiral ferrocene peptides
    6. Chiral gelators, gelation properties and chirality effects
    7. Chiral adamantane derivatives
    8. Chiral generic drugs
      1. Research at PLIVA Co.
      2. Research at Belupo Co.
      3. Stereochemistry of macrolides at Galapagos/Fidelta
    9. Chiral liquid crystals
    10. Chiral interactions of small molecules with nucleic acids
Vitomir Šunjić, Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Faculty of Chemical Technology, University of Zagreb (1969). Postdoctoral study with prof. V. Prelog, EH, Zürich (1969-1970). Assistant, then docent at Institute of Organic Chemistry, University of Zagreb (1970-1975). From 1975 to 1982 Research director at CRC, Co. (UD, Italy), and from 1982 to 2003 senior scientist at Ruder Bošković Institute, Zagreb. From 2003 to 2008, Director of Chemistry Department at PLIVA Co. and SKF Co., Zagreb. Professor of organic chemistry at Faculty of Science, (1984-2006), member (since 1995) and 2001-2003 president of ESOC. From 2008 to 2012 president of Croatian Chemical Society. In 1998 winner of HAZU award for scientific contribution to organic chemistry and in 2011 National life award for his work in organic chemistry. In 2012 elected member of Croatian Academy of Sciences (HAZU). Published 240 original papers, approximately 3300 citations, over 40 patents, 3 books in the English language, 2 in Croatian.
Krunoslav Kovačević, Ph.D., born in 1943 in Đakovo, Croatia, degree in organic chemistry from the Chemical & Technological Department, University of Zagreb (1966). In 1974 obtained his Master of Science degree at the Pharmaceutical & Biochemistry Faculty, University of Zagreb. From 1967 to 1990 worked at the PLIVA Research Institute on the syntheses of new biologically active compounds and of known drugs and intermediates. Created a number of laboratory and technological procedures for the preparation of drugs and published more than twenty scientific and professional papers. Author or co-author of ten books and book chapters, as well as 12 internationally recognized patents. 1981 and 1982 K. Kovačević stayed at Prelog's laboratory (ETH, Zürich), working on his Ph.D. thesis which was defended at Zagreb University in 1982 under the mentorship of Vladimir Prelog. Since 1990, until his retirement in 2006, K. Kovačević held several managerial positions at the PLIVA Research Institute. After retirement he continued working on specific tasks at research centers GlaxoSmithKline and Galapagos in Zagreb. He is a co-author of the book Homage to Vladimir Prelog (2010, with M. Dumić), as well as the author of the book Vladimir Prelog (2019), published in the Croatian Giants series.