Woodward, Robert Burns, 1917–80, American chemist and educator, b. Boston, grad. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (S.B., 1936; Ph.D., 1937). He taught at Harvard from 1938, becoming Donner professor of science there in 1960. He was one of the first to determine the structure of such organic chemical compounds as penicillin (1945), strychnine (1947), terramycin (1952), and aureomycin (1952). Woodward is best known for his chemical synthesis of the organic substances quinine (1944), patulin (1950), cholesterol (1951), cortisone (1951), strychnine, lysergic acid, lanosterol (1954), reserpine (1956), chlorophyll (1960), and tetracycline (1962). For this work in organic synthesis he was awarded the 1965 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
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