Nobel Prize Award for Chemistry 1975

About the Nobel Prize Award for Chemistry in 1975 including the scientists Cornforth and Prelog, their works, and history.


1975 John W. Cornforth (1917- ), British (b. Australia)

Vladimir Prelog (1906- ), Swiss (b. Yugoslavia)

Work: Research into stereochemistry, the study of how the three-dimensional arrangement of atoms affects the properties of chemical compounds

Nobel Laureates: Deaf since childhood, Cornforth has risen to the top in a field where communication is vital. Reading lips, scribbling notes, flashing fingers in sign language, and speaking slowly and deliberately, he has gone from an apprentice of 1947 chemistry laureate Robert Robinson to director of Shell Oil's Milestead Laboratory of Chemical Enzymology near London to an associate professor at the University of Warwick. Since 1971 he has been a research professor of chemistry at the University of Sussex. His wife, Rita, also a chemist, works alongside him in the laboratory. The couple resides in East Sussex. Cornforth relaxes playing lawn tennis and chess.

Born in Sarajevo eight years before the assassination there of Archduke Ferdinand touched off W.W. I. Prelog earned his Ph.D. from Prague's Technical University in 1929 and spent the next six years as an industrial chemist in that city. He then joined the faculty of the University of Zagreb, but left in the wake of the Nazi invasion in 1941. Finding refuge in Switzerland, he secured a post with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, where Einstein once taught. There he remained until his retirement in 1976. His work on stereochemistry concentrated on the carbon-containing molecules. A Swiss citizen, Prelog resides in Zurich.

Nobel Lore: On hand to see the chemistry laureates share the $143,000 prize in Stockholm's St. Erik's Exhibition Hall on Dec. 10 were 70 former laureates from all fields. Together with the 11 laureates being honored that night, the ceremony marked the largest gathering of Nobel prizewinners in history.

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