Alexander R. Todd

Alexander Robertus Todd, Baron Todd of Trumpington OM PRS FRSE[1] (2 October 1907 – 10 January 1997) was a Scottish biochemist whose research on the structure and synthesis of nucleotides, nucleosides, and nucleotide coenzymes gained him the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Baron Todd

Alexander Todd Nobel
Alexander Robertus Todd

2 October 1907
Died10 January 1997 (aged 89)
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow
University of Frankfurt am Main
University of Oxford
AwardsDavy Medal (1949)
Royal Medal (1955)
Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1957)
Paul Karrer Gold Medal (1963)
Copley Medal (1970)
Lomonosov Gold Medal (1978)
Scientific career
FieldsChemistry, Biochemistry
InstitutionsLister Institute
University of Edinburgh
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Cambridge
Christ's College, Cambridge
University of Strathclyde
Hatfield Polytechnic
Doctoral advisorWalter Borsche, Sir Robert Robinson
Doctoral studentsTed Corbett

Early life and education

Todd was born in Cathcart in outer Glasgow, the son of Alexander Todd, a clerk with the Glasgow Subway, and his wife, Jane Lowry.[2]

He attended Allan Glen's School and graduated from the University of Glasgow with a BSc in 1928. He received a PhD (Dr.phil.nat.) from Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main in 1931 for his thesis on the chemistry of the bile acids.

Todd was awarded an 1851 Research Fellowship from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851,[3] and, after studying at Oriel College, Oxford, he gained another doctorate in 1933.


After graduating from the University of Oxford, Todd held posts with the Lister Institute, the University of Edinburgh (staff, 1934–1936) and the University of London, where he was appointed Reader in Biochemistry.

In 1938, Alexander Todd spent six months as a visiting professor at California Institute of Technology, eventually declining an offer of faculty position.[4][5] Todd became the Sir Samuel Hall Chair of Chemistry and Director of the Chemical Laboratories of the University of Manchester in 1938, where he began working on nucleosides, compounds that form the structural units of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA).

In 1944, he was appointed to the 1702 Chair of Chemistry in the University of Cambridge, which he held until his retirement in 1971.[6] In 1949, he synthesised adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). Todd served as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago in Autumn 1948[7] and University of Sydney in 1950.[4][8][9]

In 1955, he helped elucidate the structure of vitamin B12, although the final formula and definite structure was determined by Dorothy Hodgkin and her team, and later worked on the structure and synthesis of vitamin B1 and vitamin E, the anthocyanins (the pigments of flowers and fruits) from insects (aphids, beetles) and studied alkaloids found in hashish and marijuana. He served as chairman of the Government of the United Kingdom's advisory committee on scientific policy from 1952 to 1964.

He was elected a Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge in 1944 and was Master from 1963 to 1978. He became Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde in 1975, and a visiting professor at Hatfield Polytechnic (1978–1986). Among his many honours, including over 40 honorary degrees, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1942, was President of the Royal Society from 1975 to 1980 and became a member of the Order of Merit in 1977.[10]

In 1981, Todd became a founding member of the World Cultural Council.[11]

He died in Cambridge on 10 January 1997 following a heart attack.


In 1937 Baron Todd married Alison Sarah Dale (d.1987), daughter of Nobel Prize winner Sir Henry Dale, who, as Todd did, served as President of the Royal Society of London. They had a son, Alexander Henry, and two daughters, Helen Jean and Hilary Alison.


Todd was honoured as a Nieuwland Lecturer at the University of Notre Dame in 1948,[12] an Arthur D. Little Visiting Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1954,[4][13] and a Hitchcock Lecturer at University of California, Berkeley, in 1957.[4][14]

He was knighted as Sir Alexander Todd in 1954[15] and was created a Life Peer as Baron Todd of Trumpington in the County of Cambridge on 16 April 1962.[16]

He is commemorated by a blue plaque erected by the Royal Society of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge's Department of Chemistry.


  • Todd, Alexander (1983), A time to remember: the autobiography of a chemist, Cambridge University Press

See also


  1. ^ Brown, D. M.; Kornberg, H. (2000). "Alexander Robertus Todd, O.M., Baron Todd of Trumpington. 2 October 1907 – 10 January 1997: Elected F.R.S. 1942". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 46: 515. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1999.0099.
  2. ^ Brown, Daniel M.; Kornberg, Hans (2000). "Alexander Robertus Todd, O. M., Baron Todd of Trumpington. 2 October 1907-10 January 1997". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 46: 517–532. JSTOR 770414.
  3. ^ 1851 Royal Commission Archives
  4. ^ a b c d "Lord Todd - Biographical". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  5. ^ Kay, Lily E. (3 December 1992). The Molecular Vision of Life: Caltech, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Rise of the New Biology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190281618.
  6. ^ Archer, Mary D.; Haley, Christopher D. (2005), The 1702 chair of chemistry at Cambridge: transformation and change, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-82873-2, Chapter 9: Alexander Todd, p 233
  7. ^ Todd, Alexander (17 November 1983). A Time to Remember: The Autobiography of a Chemist. Cambridge University Press. p. 110. ISBN 0521255937.
  8. ^ "Our Work with Cyanogenic Plants".
  9. ^ "ChemNEWS (FACULTY OF SCIENCE)" (PDF). The University of Sydney.
  10. ^ "No. 47362". The London Gazette. 28 October 1977. p. 13613.
  11. ^ "About Us". World Cultural Council. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  12. ^ Todd, Alexander R (1949). Vitamins, coenzymes and nucleotides; a series of lectures presented at the University of Notre Dame on October 22, 25 and 27, 1948. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame.
  13. ^ "Postdoc T.Y. Shen Honors his Wife | MIT Department of Chemistry". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  14. ^ "Nucleotide Co-Enzymes: A Study in Synthesis | Berkeley Graduate Lectures". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  15. ^ "No. 40227". The London Gazette. 9 July 1954. p. 4026.
  16. ^ "No. 42651". The London Gazette. 17 April 1962. p. 3185.


External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
William Pope
Professor of Organic Chemistry, Cambridge University
Succeeded by
Ralph Raphael
Preceded by
Brian Downs
Master of Christ's College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Sir John Plumb

1907 (MCMVII)

was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar, the 1907th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 907th year of the 2nd millennium, the 7th year of the 20th century, and the 8th year of the 1900s decade. As of the start of 1907, the Gregorian calendar was

13 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

Alexander Todd

Alexander Todd may refer to:

Alexander Todd (rugby union) (1873–1915), England and British Lions rugby union player

Alexander R. Todd (1907–1997), Scottish biochemist and Nobel Prize winner

Alexander Tod in 1881 FA Cup Final

Alexander Todd Visiting Professor of Chemistry from List of professorships at the University of Cambridge

Alex Todd, 2001 ECAC Hockey Men's Ice Hockey Tournament

Andrzej Trautman

Andrzej Mariusz Trautman (born January 4, 1933) is a Polish mathematical physicist who has made contributions to classical gravitation in general and to general relativity in particular.

He made contributions to gravitation as early as 1958. The "Trautman-Bondi mass" is named after him.

André Frédéric Cournand

André Frédéric Cournand (September 24, 1895 – February 19, 1988) was a French-American physician and physiologist.

Beit Memorial Fellowships for Medical Research

The Beit Memorial Medical Fellowships were one of the most prestigious and competitive fellowships for post-doctoral or medical degree research in medicine in the United Kingdom. The Fellowships were founded in 1909 by Sir Otto Beit, a German-born British financier, philanthropist and art connoisseur, in memory of his brother Alfred Beit.

Beit Memorial Fellows have been awarded a number of prestigious prizes with seven Nobel Prizes including two for Frederick Sanger (1944) and the 2012 prize for medicine for John Gurdon. Nobel laureates who have held Beit fellowships are Alexander R. Todd (chemistry, 1957), Fred Sanger (chemistry, 1958 and 1980), Macfarlane Burnet (physiology or medicine, 1960), Bernard Katz (physiology or medicine, 1970) and Tim Hunt (physiology or medicine, 2001). The first female member of the Royal Society in 1945 was Marjory Stephenson (1914 Beit fellowship) an early recipient of the fellowship.

The Beit Memorial Medical Fellowships were replaced by the prestigious Wellcome-Beit Prize Fellowships in 2009.

Brian Downs

Brian Westerdale Downs, KNO (4 July 1893 – 3 March 1984) was an English literary scholar and linguist. He served as Master of Christ's College, Cambridge from 1950 to 1963 and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1955 to 1957. From 1950 to 1960, he was the Professor of Scandinavian Studies at Cambridge.

Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge

The Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge is the chemistry department of the University of Cambridge. It was formed from a merger in the early 1980s of two separate departments that had moved into the Lensfield Road building decades earlier: the Department of Physical Chemistry (originally led by Professor Ronald Norrish FRS, Nobel Laureate; the department was previously located near the Old Cavendish in Free School Lane - see photo) and the Department of Chemistry (that included theoretical chemistry and which was led by Lord Alexander R. Todd FRS, Nobel Laureate) respectively. Research interests in the department cover a broad of chemistry ranging from molecular biology to geophysics. The department is located on the Lensfield Road, next to the Panton Arms on the South side of Cambridge. As of 2015 the department is home to around 200 postdoctoral research staff, over 250 postgraduate students, around sixty academic staff.

Frank Barnaby

Frank Charles Barnaby is Nuclear Issues Consultant to the Oxford Research Group, a freelance defence analyst, and a prolific author on military technology, based in the UK.Barnaby trained as a nuclear physicist and worked at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, Aldermaston, between 1951 and 1957. He was on the senior scientific staff of the Medical Research Council (UK) when a university lecturer at University College London (1957–67). Barnaby was Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) from 1971–81. In 1981, Barnaby became a founding member of the World Cultural Council. He was a Professor at the VU University Amsterdam 1981–85, and awarded the Harold Stassen Chair of International Relations at the University of Minnesota in 1985.

George Davis Snell

George Davis Snell (December 19, 1903 – June 6, 1996) was an American mouse geneticist and basic transplant immunologist.

Ilie G. Murgulescu

Ilie G. Murgulescu (Cornu, 27 January 1902 – Bucharest, 28 October 1991) was a Romanian physical chemist and a communist politician. He was president of the Romanian Academy (1960–1963) and Minister of Education (1953–1956 and 1960–1963). He founded the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Romanian Academy where he presided until 1977. His investigations on physical chemistry covered a broad realm. Among main results can be cited those he got on molten salts electrochemistry. He did doctoral work on Copper thiosulfate complex photochemistry under Fritz Weigert in Leipzig as adviser.

His son participated in manifestations of support towards the Hungarian revolution in 1956. This event affected Murgulescu's position in the government. After a while he was reinstated at the Ministry of Education.

He was elected honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

He authored a series of didactic books in 7 volumes on Physical chemistry called Introduction to Physical Chemistry printed between 1976-1984.

In 1981, Murgulescu became a founding member of the World Cultural Council.

James Baddiley

Sir James Baddiley FRS FRSE (15 May 1918, in Manchester – 17 November 2008, in Cambridge) was a British biochemist.

Meldola Medal and Prize

The Meldola Medal and Prize was awarded annually from 1921-1979 by the Chemical Society and from 1980–2008 by the Royal Society of Chemistry to a British chemist who was under 32 years of age for promising original investigations in chemistry (which had been published). It commemorated Raphael Meldola, President of the Maccabaeans and the Institute of Chemistry. The prize was the sum of £500 and a bronze medal.The prize was modified in 2008 and joined the Edward Harrison Memorial Prize to become the Harrison-Meldola Memorial Prizes.

Paul Karrer Gold Medal

The Paul Karrer Gold Medal and Lecture is awarded annually or biennially by the University of Zurich to an outstanding researcher in the field of chemistry. It was established in 1959 by a group of leading companies, including CIBA AG, J.R. Geigy, F. Hoffmann-La Roche & Co. AG, Sandoz AG, Société des Produits Nestlé AG and Dr. A. Wander AG, to honour the Swiss organic chemist and Nobel laureate Paul Karrer on his 70th birthday. The Medal was created by Swiss sculptor Hermann Hubacher; the obverse depicts a relief of Paul Karrer and the reverse is engraved with the words University of Zurich - Paul Karrer Lecture. The lecture itself is delivered at the University of Zurich.

The recipients to date (2015) have represented most of the important research institutions of Europe and the USA and include nine Nobel Prize winners for chemistry or medicine.

Ronald George Wreyford Norrish

Ronald George Wreyford Norrish FRS (9 November 1897 – 7 June 1978) was a British chemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1967.

S. Paul Ehrlich Jr.

Saul Paul Ehrlich Jr. (4 May 1932 - 6 January 2005) was an American physician and public health administrator. He served as acting Surgeon General of the United States from 1973 to 1977.

Acting Surgeon General, United States Public Health Service (1973–77)

Former Deputy Director, Pan American Health Organization (1978–1983)

Director, Office of International Health, Office of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare (1969–1977)

Chairman of Executive Board, World Health Organization (1972)

Founding member of the World Cultural Council (1981).

Sir Samuel Hall Chair of Chemistry

The Sir Samuel Hall Chair of Chemistry is the named Chair of Chemistry in the School of Chemistry at the University of Manchester, established through an endowment of £36,000 in 1913 by the Hall family. This chair has been occupied by the following chemists:

2014- David Alan Leigh FRS

2005 - 2014 Ian Hillier

1947-1954 Sir Ewart Jones FRS

1944-1947 Sir Edmund Hirst FRS

1938-1944 Alexander R. Todd, Baron Todd FRS

1935-1938 Sir Ian Heilbron FRS

1922-1935 Arthur Lapworth FRS

Société chimique de France

The Société Chimique de France (SCF) is a learned society and professional association founded in 1857 to represent the interests of French chemists in a variety of ways in local, national and international contexts. Until 2009 the organization was known as the Société Française de Chimie.

Tercentenary Lectures

The Tercentenary Lectures were a series of lectures held during the 300th anniversary year of the Royal Society, London in 1960.

Tilden Prize

The Tilden Prize is an award that is made by the Royal Society of Chemistry for advances in chemistry. The award was established in 1939 and commemorates Sir William A. Tilden, a prominent British chemist. The prize runs annually with up to three prizes available. Winners receive £5000, a medal and certificate.

17th century
18th century
19th century
20th century
21st century
Copley Medallists (1951–2000)
Founding members of the World Cultural Council

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.