Cornforth, Sir John Warcup

Cornforth, Sir John Warcup

Cornforth, Sir John Warcup, 1917-, Australian chemist, Ph.D. Oxford, 1941. Although Cornforth suffered a hearing loss from childhood, he was aided in communicating by his wife and co-researcher Rita Harradence. His main affiliations were with the National Institute for Medical Research in London (1946-62) and the Milstead Laboratory of Chemical Enzymology for Shell Research, Ltd. (1962-75). In 1975 he and Vladimir Prelog were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their efforts to relate molecular structure to the properties of chemical compounds.

Sir John Warcup 'Kappa' Cornforth AC, CBE, FRS (born 7 September 1917), is an Australian scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1975 for his work on the stereochemistry of enzyme-catalyzed reactions. He has been profoundly deaf since his teens.

Cornforth was born in Sydney, and educated at Sydney Boys High School and Sydney University (from 16 years of age) where he met his wife Rita Harradence. He studied organic chemistry and graduated with first-class honours and a University medal in 1937. He won a scholarship to study at St Catherine's College, Oxford, and moved there with Rita.

Cornforth had a profound influence on the work on penicillin during the war. He helped to write The Chemistry of Penicillin (Princeton University Press, 1949), He received his Nobel Prize with Vladimir Prelog in 1975 and was knighted in 1977. He was awarded the Corday-Morgan medal in 1953, Royal Medal in 1976 and the Copley Medal in 1982.

He is a member of the Royal Society and is still very active in chemistry research at the University of Sussex. This section from longer archive recordings shows his warmth and personality, and gives an insight into an amazing man who has overcome deafness to pursue a brilliant career in science. He was named the Australian of the Year in 1975.

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