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Peter Jeschke: Discovering Nature´s Molecular Secrets

Nature can provide endless inspiration, and Professor Peter Jeschke researches how to make use of it. He’s searching for new ways to use motifs from natural products in pest control chemistry.

I find it fascinating to identify new active substances based on models from nature.

Professor Peter Jeschke has been working in chemical research for more than 30 years. Today, he is searching for new insecticides.

In my lectureship at Düsseldorf University, students often ask what my research is like. I tell them it´s like building a mosaic. Each research step is a little piece of a puzzle; when these pieces are put together, they reveal the bigger and often clearer picture. As a small molecules researcher at Bayer, I am looking for novel approaches derived from biochemical processes in nature and often by natural products. It’s remarkable how complex structures and diverse mechanisms in nature can be. Even the smallest adjustments may change the whole balance – for better or for worse activity. In fields, these biological effects can be seen very quickly. My work is to find novel products to specifically remove pest insects while keeping beneficial insects such as bees safe.

Modern pest control is an ongoing research process. Changing climate conditions, optimizing product profile, improving food security, preserving biodiversity, spreading pest infestations and adapting to resistance all present steady challenges. This situation leads to the need for a variety of innovative solutions. I find it fascinating to identify new, active substances based on models from nature.

Balance of Nature

In all of our projects, we have to balance between effective treatments of active substances and selective goals: we have to have a specific target for the application and the optimal results. Natural solutions are often very specific and sophisticated. Recreating and adapting these concepts for modern pesticides requires a viable method: The synthetic preparation has to be efficient while providing a result with high quality. We also have to consider how to help beneficial insects like bees or ladybugs prosper.

I’ve been interested in research since I was a child. Curiosity about chemical processes soon led me to experiment at home. At school, I took an extra course in chemistry. Even today, it’s always encouraging to find new approaches and create new active substances. Luck and coincidence are as important as endurance and determination. Failures are a common part of this process, but a success can change the world. This is what keeps me going.

Spreading the Word

Sharing knowledge is my passion. So far, I’ve produced many hundreds of publications inclusive many patent applications, ranging from endoparasiticides to newly discovered pesticides. I’ve also held 26 lectures at conferences and held a lectureship at Düsseldorf University to contribute to modern crop protection compounds. As an expert in agrochemistry, I support various projects and interdisciplinary exchanges. I also host excursions and events onsite in Monheim, Germany, to show Bayer Crop Science Division´s advanced research activities.

I’m not just inspired by nature; I also find it relaxing. I love trips into the great wildernesses of the USA, of Canada, of New Zealand and – especially – of Australia. It’s mesmerizing to take in the variety of colors – from blue skies, green trees and meadows to red soil and white sand beaches. But I don’t have to be far away to relax; I also find calm in my backyard. Reading a book on my terrace, surrounded by lots of green, gives me great pleasure. There, I can sink into the peace and beauty of nature.

CV Professor Peter Jeschke

1956 born in Greifswald, Germany

1982 M.Sc. Chemistry, University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

1986 Ph.D. University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

1985-1988 Lab Leader, Agrochemical Research, Fahlberg-List Company, Magdeburg, Germany

1988-1989 Group Leader, Institute of Neurobiology and Brain Research, Academy of Sciences, Magdeburg and Berlin Friedrichsfelde, Germany

1989-1998 Lab Leader, Animal Health Research, Bayer AG, Monheim, Germany

2011 Honorary Professor at the University Düsseldorf, Germany

1998-2002 Lab Leader, Chemical Research, Bayer Crop Protection Business Group, Monheim, Germany

2002-2013 Group Leader, Insecticide Chemistry (later Pest Control Chemistry), Bayer Crop Science, Monheim, Germany

2012-current Principal Scientist, Bayer Crop Science Division

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