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Alexander Todd
Born October 2, 1907(1907-10-02)
Cathcart, Glasgow
Died January 10, 1997 (aged 89)
Oakington, Cambridgeshire
Nationality Scottish
Fields Chemistry, Biochemistry
Institutions Lister Institute
University of Edinburgh
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Cambridge
University of Strathclyde
Hatfield Polytechnic
Alma mater University of Glasgow
University of Frankfurt am Main
University of Oxford
Doctoral advisor Walter Barsche, Sir Robert Robinson
Notable awards Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1957

Alexander Robertus Todd, Baron Todd of Trumpington, OM, PPRS, FRSE (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 1957 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Todd was born near Glasgow, attended Allan Glen's School and graduated from the University of Glasgow with a B.Sc. in 1928. He received a Ph.D (Dr.rer.nat.) from Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main in 1931 for his thesis on the chemistry of the bile acids. After studying at Oriel College, Oxford he gained another doctorate in (1933) and held posts with the Lister Institute, the University of Edinburgh and the University of London, where he was appointed Reader in Biochemistry.

Todd became the Sir Samuel Hall Professor 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, after a heart attack.[1] In 1949 he synthesized adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD).

In 1955 he elucidated the structure of vitamin B12, later working 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 British government'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 Royal Order of Merit in 1977.

He was knighted as Sir Alexander Todd in 1954 and elevated to the peerage as Baron Todd of Trumpington in the County of Cambridgeshire in 1962.

Lord Todd was married to Alison Sarah, daughter of Nobel Prize winner Sir Henry Dale, and had a son, Alexander Henry, and two daughters, Helen Jean and Hilary Alison.



  • Archer, Mary D.; Haley, Christopher D. (2005), The 1702 chair of chemistry at Cambridge: transformation and change, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521828732  , Chapter 9: Alexander Todd
  • Brown, Daniel; Kornberg, Sir Hans (2000), "Alexander Robertus Todd, Baron Todd of Trumpington", Biographical Memoirs 46: 515–532  
  • Reynolds, David (2005), Christ's: A Cambridge College Over Five Centuries, Macmillan, ISBN 0333989880  : "The Era of Todd, Plumb and Snow", by Sir David Cannadine.
  • Todd, Alexander (1983), A time to remember: the autobiography of a chemist, Cambridge University Press  
  • Obituary in the Independent
  • Obituary in the New York Times

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
William Pope
Professor of Organic Chemistry, Cambridge University
1944 - 1972
Succeeded by
Ralph Raphael
Preceded by
Brian Downs
Master of Christ's College, Cambridge
1963 - 1978
Succeeded by
Sir Jack Plumb


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