Helvetica Chimica Acta – Vol. 94 (2011) 923
by G. Wayne Craig Lead Finding Research, Neumattstrasse 5, CH-4144 Arlesheim (e-mail: [email protected])
To commemorate the International Year of Chemistry, 2011, this article is dedicated to the memory of my research colleagues from the Novartis legacy family: Zoecon Ltd.: David L. Grant (1933 – 1994), Robert J. Lamoreaux (1947 – 1997), F. Dan Hess (1947 – 2000); Jorge Pengman Li (1934 – 2002). Sandoz AG: Andreas Weiss (1930 – 1990), Rupert Schneider (1926 – 1996), Wolf-Dieter Hatzfeld (1957 – 1996), Fritz Irminger (1929 – 2000), Egon Moesinger (1950 – 2002), Karl Lutz (1915 – 2007), James Karapally (1942 – 2008), Charles Timbers (1943 – 2008); Alfred (Fredy) Schaub (1940 – 2009), Ciba-Geigy AG: John Grey Dingwall (1943 – 2000), Manfred Bçger (1940 – 1999), Hardy K hne (1948 – 2009), and Heinz Kienast (1948 – 2010).
Certainly a highlight in the career of Nobel Laureate Professor Robert Burns Woodward (1917 – 1979) was the foundation of the Woodward Research Institute (WRI)atCiba AG in Basel, Switzerland, in 1963. Woodward s remarkable accomplishments in the development of organic chemistry altered not only our concepts of molecular structure, but also our comprehension of physico-chemical properties. In his legacy, Woodward devised innovative strategies for natural product syntheses based on brilliant rationale of their properties and an uncanny sense of Nature. The chemistry community benefited not only at Harvard but especially in Basel and Z rich from Woodward s inspiring lectures and the opportunity to learn from the chemistry Meister. This article highlights parts of the chemistry and some personalities that contributed to forefront investigations at the Woodward Research Institute which began at the former Novartis legacy company, Ciba AG, Basel.
Introduction. – Professor Robert Burns Woodward (Fig. 1) has been elegantly described as one of the preeminent organic chemists of the 20th century . The beginning of the Woodward era was an exciting time which challenged chemists to solve chemical problems by using what little was understood of structure, not to mention their chemical properties. Woodward s mastery to deduce the structural features from the reactivity profile of a unique molecule such as penicillin (Fig. 2), often using a diverse range of reactions, to understand the molecule s chemical and physical properties based on rudimentary instrumental analyses, and then to combine all of the significant data into a consistent clear picture of its molecular structure was unquestionable artistry in chemistry. But Woodward s achievement to orchestrate these facets together into a number of monumental syntheses was, to paraphrase Swedish Professor Arne Fredga s (1902 – 1992) 1965 Nobel Prize introduction, a good second only to Nature .