2010 ACS International Award for Research in Agrochemicals

Co-Sponsored by BASF Corporation and DuPont Crop Protection

Professor Kagabu Shinzo

Professor Shinzo Kagabu is the principal discoverer and father of the neonicotinoid insecticides, following in the path of Paul Müller for the chlorinated hydrocarbons, Gerhard Schrader for the organophosphates, Robert Metcalf for the methylcarbamates, and Michael Elliott for the pyrethroids. These are the four major classes of synthetic organic insecticides. The neonicotinoids are the newest class and are gradually replacing the organophosphates and methylcarbamates.  It is now appropriate and timely for Shinzo Kagabu to receive the Agrochemical Award for his discoveries, developed by Bayer, and laying the background for a family of compounds from several companies.


Dr. Kagabu studied tropolone chemistry for his Master thesis at Tohoku University, Japan and investigated non-benzenoid aromatic compounds for his Ph.D. degree at Freiburg University, Germany in 1976.  Shinzo first prepared imidacloprid in 1985 when he was a researcher in the pesticide development project in Nihon Tokushu Noyaku Seizo (presently Bayer CropScience, Japan). Astonishingly in his seven-year period at the Bayer laboratory, he also discovered another neonicotinoid thiacloprid and anti-rice blast fungicide carpropamid. Neonicotinoid insecticides pioneered by imidacloprid, with excellent control effectiveness and safety to people and the environment, are extensively used throughout the world for crop protection particularly against sucking insect pests, accounting for more than one-fifth of the total world insecticide market. Imidacloprid is also the preeminent insecticide for flea control on companion animals.


After Shinzo moved to an academic research position (Gifu University, Japan), he continued his neonicotinoid research in the chemical approaches, along with pursuing fundamental research on cyclopropane chemistry. His achievements related to the neonicotinoid field involve mechanisms of photostabilization; crystallographic analysis revealing the basis for their unique physicochemical properties; structure-activity relationships. Dr. Kagabu was the principal contributor to development of the photoaffinity probe 5-azidoimidacloprid which facilitated the ultimate definition of neonicotinoid molecular recognition at the receptor. Moreover, his efforts in exploring novel chemical structures led to discovery of alkylene-tethered bis-neonicotinoid insecticides.


His studies on pesticide chemistry and other fields have resulted in 150 papers and patents. His seminal contributions have been honored in Japan (two Pesticide Science Society Japan Awards and Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery Award) and Germany (Otto Bayer Medal). Therefore, Dr. Kagabu is now recognized more broadly with the ACS International Award for Research in Agrochemicals.