Donald J. Cram

Facts

Donald J. Cram

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Donald J. Cram
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1987

Born: 22 April 1919, Chester, VT, USA

Died: 17 June 2001, Palm Desert, CA, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Prize motivation: “for their development and use of molecules with structure-specific interactions of high selectivity”

Prize share: 1/3

Life

Donald Cram was born and raised in Chester, Vermont. When Cram was four years old, his father died. Because money was scarce, Cram began working at an early age and was able to continue his education thanks to scholarships. After studies at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he worked at Merck & Co. He received his doctorate at Harvard University in 1947. He subsequently worked at UCLA in Los Angeles. Donald Cram was married twice, first to Jean Turner and then to Jane Maxwell.

Work

Chemical reactions often occur through the influence of molecules that have cavities and pockets where other atoms and molecules can be attached to then join with other molecules. After Charles Pedersen discovered crown ethers, molecules that can capture certain metallic atoms, Donald Cram succeeded in building molecules with the ability to attach specific atoms and molecules to themselves. This made it possible to create chemical compounds through chemical reactions that have a significant impact on biological processes.

To cite this section
MLA style: Donald J. Cram – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Sat. 22 Jun 2024. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/1987/cram/facts/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Nobel Prizes and laureates

Eleven laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. Their work and discoveries range from effective mRNA vaccines and attosecond physics to fighting against the oppression of women.

See them all presented here.
Illustration

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.