Alexander Robertus Todd
2 October 1907
|Died||10 January 1997 (aged 89)|
|Alma mater||University of Glasgow|
University of Frankfurt am Main
University of Oxford
|Awards||Davy Medal (1949)|
Royal Medal (1955)
Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1957)
Paul Karrer Gold Medal (1963)
Copley Medal (1970)
Lomonosov Gold Medal (1978)
|Institutions||Lister Institute |
University of Edinburgh
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Cambridge
Christ's College, Cambridge
University of Strathclyde
|Doctoral advisor||Walter Borsche, Sir Robert Robinson|
|Doctoral students||Ted Corbett|
Alexander Robertus Todd, Baron Todd OM PRS FRSE (2 October 1907 – 10 January 1997) was a British biochemist whose research on the structure and synthesis of nucleotides, nucleosides, and nucleotide coenzymes gained him the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
Todd was born near Glasgow, 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.
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. 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. 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 and University of Sydney in 1950.
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.
Todd died in 1997 after a heart attack.
In 1937 Lord Todd married Alison Sarah, daughter of Nobel Prize winner Sir Henry Dale, who like Todd served as President of the Royal Society. They had a son, Alexander Henry, and two daughters, Helen Jean and Hilary Alison. Alison predeceased Lord Todd in 1987.
Todd was honoured as a Nieuwland Lecturer at the University of Notre Dame in 1948, an Arthur D. Little Visiting Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1954, and a Hitchcock Lecturer at University of California, Berkeley, in 1957.
| Professor of Organic Chemistry, Cambridge University
| Master of Christ's College, Cambridge
Sir John Plumb