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.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.