Francesco Minisci

Professor emeritus of Politecnico di Milano


  • Year of nomination: 2007
  • Facility: Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering “Giulio Natta”

"Professor Francesco Minisci graduated in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Bologna in 1953. Immediately after graduation, he was hired as a researcher at Montecatini Edison S.p.A. and then took up a role at Politecnico di Milano as an assistant professor in 1966. In 1968 he became Full Professor of Industrial Organic Chemistry at the University of Parma, to then rejoin Politecnico in 1971 as Full Professor of Chemistry, a role he held until his retirement in 2005. From 1995 to 2001, he was Head of the Department of Chemistry at Politecnico di Milano.

Professor Minisci taught Chemistry at the Faculty of Architecture of Politecnico di Milano from 1966 to 1968 and ran the course in Industrial Chemistry at the University of Parma from 1968 to 1971, then the Chemistry programme for chemical engineering students at Politecnico di Milano from 1971 to 1991. Finally, from 1991 to 2002 he ran the Organic Chemistry II programme for Politecnico's Chemical Engineering students. From 1990 to 1996, he was director of the School of Doctoral Research in Chemistry of the Politecnico di Milano - University of Milan consortium.

However, his teaching activity was not limited to institutional teaching courses: he was the supervisor of dozens of PhD theses, contributing to the training of young researchers who today hold important roles in the Academy and in industry.

As evidence of Professor Minisci’s international prestige it is possible to cite his directorship of two NATO ADVANCED RESEARCH Workshops on 'Free Radicals in Synthesis and Biology' (1987) and 'Free Radicals in Biology and Environment' and editorship of the two subsequent volumes.

In 1996 he was chairman of the VII International Symposium on Free Radicals. In 1996 the Italian Chemical Society awarded him the A. Mangini Medal. Finally, Professor Minisci has been a member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei since 1998.

Professor Minisci has also carried out much research in the field of Free Radical Chemistry, particularly towards the development of new selective syntheses and the study of the related reaction mechanisms, especially in redox processes. He is the author of over 350 papers, published in major international journals, and of about 100 patents, some of which have led to important industrial achievements, such as the production of pyrocatechol, hydroquinone, monomethyl ether, vanillin, isovanillin, carbofuran, propoxur.

Among his most significant scientific findings (both synthetic and mechanistic) are the development of the most selective radical halogenation and oxidation methodologies known so far, the most important aromatic homolytic substitutions both in the homocyclic and heterocyclic series, the catalysis mechanisms in the oxidation of alkanes, alkenes, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, ethers, amides and phenols with oxygen, hydrogen peroxide and peroxides. His key scientific contribution in the field of free radicals, which still continues to be researched thoroughly, has garnered numerous international awards. As further confirmation of this, it should be remembered that some synthetic and oxidative processes developed by him, such as radical nucleophilic substitution on protonated heterocyclic bases, are not only widely used in Organic Chemistry, but bear his name and are now mentioned in texts and international science journals."

[extract from the 2007 nomination statement]