Hired at CNRS in 1981, Jean-René Hamon (DR1 CNRS) carried out his Ph.D. research work under the supervision of Prof. Didier Astruc at the University of Rennes 1, on the synthesis and stereoelectronic structure of organometallic iron(I) electron reservoirs and their reactivity toward dioxygen via superoxide radical anion (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1981, 103, 758-766; 1981, 103, 7502-7514; 1983, 105, 5951-5953). After having completed his thesis (1982), he joined the group of Prof. Kenneth N. Raymond at the University of California at Berkeley for postdoctoral work. There, a tragic accident let him blind. Back to Rennes, with the help of his colleagues, he started his own career focusing on the design, synthesis and reactivity of dia- and paramagnetic organometallic iron complexes in various electronic states and geometries (Organometallics 1991, 10, 1045-1054; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2001, 123, 9984-10000).
Many examples from his research work deal with the synthesis and characterization of inorganic complexes of iron and other homo- and heteronuclear compounds (Inorg. Chem. 2007, 46, 1123-1134; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, 8687-8691), isolation of classical and non-classical iron hydrides (C. R. Chim. 2002, 5, 89-98), stabilization of intermediates in the reduction of molecular dinitrogen (Coord. Chem. Rev. 2010, 254, 765-780), electronic communication between iron centers through hydrocarbon bridging spacers (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2008, 130, 17372-17383; Organometallics 2018, 37, 4156-4171), as well as the study of transition metal complexes featuring asymmetric Schiff base ligands, a domain where he is now recognized as a worldwide expert) and their properties as molecular materials and catalysts (Coord. Chem. Rev. 2018, 357, 144-172; 2019, 389, 94-118).
In recognition of his work, he received the Gineste Award of the University of Rennes 1 (1983), the CNRS Bronze Medal (1983), the Cahours-Houzeau Award of the French Academy of Sciences (1995), the “honoraria de Profesor Extraordinario” degree (2010) of the Catholic University of Valparaiso (Chile), and was elected as a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (2014).
All along his career, Jean-René Hamon has been involved in fruitful international collaborations, and especially with Chile where he has been a pioneer and an active member in the development of the scientific cooperation in the field of coordination chemistry. In particular, he initiated the International Research program (IRP CNRS) involving the Institut des Sciences Chimiques de Rennes and seven Chilean universities that he is managing since 2009. He was vice-President (2007-2009) and then President (2010-2012) of the Coordination Chemistry Division (DCC) of the French Chemical Society (SCF).