Robert B. Woodward


Robert Burns Woodward

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Robert Burns Woodward
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1965

Born: 10 April 1917, Boston, MA, USA

Died: 8 July 1979, Cambridge, MA, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Prize motivation: “for his outstanding achievements in the art of organic synthesis”

Prize share: 1/1


Nature is full of organic substances—a large and highly diverse array of chemical compounds that contain the basic element carbon. Building, or synthesizing, organic substances using chemical methods is important in both scientific and industrial contexts. Synthesis often entails complicated, multistep processes. Robert Woodward mastered these processes and, in the 1950s and 1960s, successfully synthesized a large number of substances: quinine, cholesterol, cortisone, several antibiotic substances, and chlorophyll, the substance that gives leaves their green color.

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