Green Chemistry in Pharmaceutical industry and Education

Green chemistry (GC) is a current topic which has been highlighted by scientists for reducing the environmental footprint of the pharmaceutical industry. As it is known, the von der Leyen Commission documented over a year ago the need for action at the European level, with six main priorities, including the European Green Deal and a Europe fit for the digital age. Unfortunately, COVID-19 caused a global upheaval both in the economy and the way activities are carried out daily. The transition to a Green Europe will be the backbone of the new economy and the prosperity of the next generation of citizens.  

In the context of this strategy, the University of Nicosia participated in the EC Representation in Cyprus-UNIC Collaboration Program, where its main objective is the collaboration of the EU with the academic community to encourage students to “have a say” about the importance of the European Green Deal and the impact of EU policies in their life. Moreover, it was aimed to assist young scientists in facing the new era of the EU, by encompassing new courses on EU priorities and help them to acquire knowledge about the Green Deal. This program will be a great advantage for society, as well as for young people, especially in their academic, private/social, and professional life. For this reason, the utilisation of GC principles in the pharmaceutical industry can therefore be noticed as an obligation to enhance their positive impact on the global community. It is important to mention that Green Pharmaceutical Analysis is rarely taught to undergraduates. Adding courses on GC in the pharmaceutical industry into an already-crowded Chemistry or Pharmacy program is a challenge because education is critical for encouraging the ideas of young scientists. However, many universities have never been exposed to this field.  

My participation in this program gave me the opportunity to educate my students on the topics of Green Pharmaceutical Analysis in industry. In my opinion, the involvement of undergraduates in this program was essential as they had the prospect to present their ideas outside the framework of academic society. The students’ ideas focused especially on education and training on green practices in the fields of pharmacology and pharmaceutical analysis. It is well known that the pharmaceutical industry produces a lot of toxic industrial waste in the environment. Therefore, several changes in pharmaceutical industry practices are needed to meet the von der Leyen Commission’s goal of a European Green Deal. In the context of the course, students have been educated about several topics such as the development of green management methods in the process of drug production, the guidelines on green processes from synthesis to analysis of drugs and education on green practices in industry. 

Evroula Hapeshi
Assistant Professor at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus

Nobel Prize for GDCh Member Benjamin List 

The German Chemical Society (GDCh) congratulates its member Benjamin List, who receives this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with the Briton David MacMillan. They are awarded for their work on asymmetric catalysis.  

They have established for the first time that small organic molecules are suitable as mediators of chemical reactions. Previously, science assumed that only enzymes and metals, including often toxic heavy metals or expensive and rare precious metals, could accelerate chemical reactions and steer them in a desired direction. The small organic molecules that Benjamin List and David MacMillan introduced as catalysts are particularly suitable for asymmetric synthesis. In this process, only one of two enantiomers is produced – these are molecules that are like the left and right hand, which means they cannot be spatially aligned. Such molecules are involved in all biological processes and play an equally important role as medical agents.  

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021, Benjamin List Photo © David Ausserhofer / MPG

Benjamin List, Director at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, has been a member of the GDCh for many years and has already received numerous awards for his work. He gave a plenary lecture on his research at the GDCh Science Forum Chemistry in 2019 (, in English).  

Karin J. Schmitz
GDCh, Head of Public Relations Department