Alexander Robertus Todd

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Alexander Todd

Alexander Robertus Todd, Baron Todd (born October 2, 1907 in Glasgow , † January 10, 1997 in Cambridge ) was a British chemist . In 1957 he received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for “fundamental work on the group of nucleotides and nucleotide coenzymes , whose construction principle and chemical function he has elucidated”.


Alexander Todd was born in Glasgow, Scotland , in 1907 and stayed there until he graduated from the University of Glasgow . His doctorate took place in Germany at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main , a second in 1933 in Oxford . In 1936 he became a lecturer at the Lister Institute for Preventive Medicine in London , where he taught biochemistry . From 1937 he taught the same subject at the University of London. A year later he was appointed Professor of Organic Chemistry and Head of Chemical Laboratories at the University of Manchester . In 1944 he was appointed full professor of organic chemistry at Cambridge University , where he stayed until 1971 and then retired. He died in Cambridge in 1997 at the age of 89.


Alexander Todd was one of the pioneers in the study of nucleic acids . He dealt primarily with the elucidation of the structure and the synthesis of nucleotides and described, among other things, in 1949 together with James Baddiley the first chemical synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). His first important structural clarifications in this area date back to 1942, where he succeeded in deciphering details about the structure and the reaction mechanisms. At the beginning of the 1950s, he was able to artificially produce some of the nucleotides that make up deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which is the carrier of genetic information in all organisms.

In 1955 he clarified the structure of vitamin B12 by combining methods of organic chemistry with X-ray structure analysis for the first time . He also dealt with the structure of the nucleotide coenzymes, which act as enzymes in DNA. His most important work was the elucidation of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid (RNA), with which he laid the foundations for modern genetics , biochemistry and molecular biology .

He was a co-discoverer of the Atherton-Todd reaction .

honors and awards

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Alexander Todd was honored in many ways for his scientific work. In 1954, he was promoted to a Knight Bachelor's degree by Queen Elisabeth II and in 1962 as Baron Todd , of Trumpington in the County of Cambridge, was promoted to Life Peer . Since 1966 he was also a member of the Pour le Mérite order for science and the arts .

The scientific honors include the following:

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Member History: Lord Todd. American Philosophical Society, accessed November 13, 2018 .
  2. ^ Fellows Directory. Biographical Index: Former RSE Fellows 1783–2002. (PDF file) Royal Society of Edinburgh, accessed April 16, 2020 .
  3. Member entry of Lord Alexander R. Todd (with picture) at the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina , accessed on June 18, 2016.