Helma Wennemers studied chemistry at the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University in Frankfurt before moving to Columbia University, New York where she received her PhD degree for studies with W. Clark Still in 1996. Following postdoctoral studies at Nagoya University with Hisashi Yamamoto (1997–1998), she joined the faculty of Basel University as the Bachem-endowed Assistant Professor in 1999. Helma was promoted to Associate Professor (2004) at the University of Basel before moving to ETH Zurich in the fall of 2011 where she is Professor of Organic Chemistry. Her research has been recognized by several named lectureships and awards, among them the Zervas Award (2010), Pedler Award (2016), JSP Distinguished Lectureship (2016), The Chemical Record Lectureship (2017), and Inhoffen Medal (2017).
Her research focuses on the development of small molecules with functions that are fulfilled in nature by large macromolecules. She utilizes the power of organic synthesis to access functionalities that nature might have not had in the repertoire of building blocks. The focus is both on practical applications and an understanding of the properties on the molecular level. This scope includes the development of bioinspired asymmetric catalysts and functionalizable collagen, and molecular scaffolds for applications in supramolecular and biological chemistry (e.g., cell-penetrating peptides, and tumor targeting) and the controlled formation of metal nanoparticles
- “Functionalized Proline-Rich Peptides Bind the Bacterial Second Messenger c-di-GMP”, C. Foletti, R. A. Kramer, H. Mauser, U. Jenal, K. H. Bleicher, H. Wennemers,
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2018, 57, 7729–7733.
- “Influence of the trans/cis Conformer Ratio on the Stereoselectivity of Peptidic Catalysts”, T. Schnitzer, H. Wennemers, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017, 139, 15356–15362.
- “Cross-Linked Collagen Triple Helices by Oxime Ligation”, N. B. Hentzen, L. E. J. Smeenk, J. Witek, S. Riniker, H. Wennemers, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017, 139, 12815–12820.
- A Triaxial Supramolecular Weave”, U. Lewandowska, W. Zajaczkowski, S. Corra, J. Tanabe, R. Borrmann, E. M. Benetti, S. Stappert, K. Watanabe, N. A. K. Ochs, R. Schaeublin, C. Li, E. Yashima, W. Pisula, K. Müllen, H. Wennemers, Nat. Chem., 2017, 9, 1068–1072.
- “Effect of Preorganized Charge Display on the Cell Penetrating Properties of Cationic Peptides”, Y. A. Nagel, P. S. Raschle, H. Wennemers, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2017, 56, 122–126.
- “Size-controlled formation of noble metal nanoparticles in aqueous solution with a thiol-free tripeptide”, S. Corra, U. Lewandowska, E. M. Benetti, H. Wennemers,
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2016, 55, 8542–8545.
- “Enantioselective Aldol Reactions with Masked Fluoroacetates”, J. Saadi, H. Wennemers,
Nature Chem., 2016, 8, 276–280.