I find it hard to express adequately my appreciation of the honour which has been done me - for surely the bestowal of a Nobel Prize is the greatest honour a man of science can receive. It is, at the same time, an honour which brings with it a sense of humility and when I think of the great names which adorn the roll of Nobel prizewinners in chemistry, I am deeply moved that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences should have felt me worthy of such recognition. And I would mention especially that among these names is that of Sir Robert Robinson, whom I first knew as my teacher and since then as a staunch friend, I am proud to acknowledge publicly the immense debt I owe him for his guidance and encouragement.
In making its award, the Academy is recognising not only my work but also that of the research students from many lands with whom I have had the good fortune to be associated over the years. Without their devoted help I should have achieved but little and I am deeply grateful to them.
As an organic chemist I have naturally a soft spot in my heart for Sweden - for was it not your countryman Berzelius who first defined organic chemistry as the chemistry of the substances found in living matter? There have been other, later, definitions of different types and it is, of course, clear, if only from the enormous development of the organic chemical industry that the science deals with many things seemingly far removed from living matter. But, for myself, I have in my work followed, in the main, the definition of Berzelius, and I believe that we stand today on the threshold of a new era in which the organic chemist following this path may provide the keys necessary to unlock the secrets of the cell nucleus. There is, in these days, a natural tendency for us to marvel at the secrets of the atomic nucleus, whose exploration by the physicists and whose harnessing for use - and, alas, misuse - by man have been the outstanding feature of this century so far. The nucleus of the living cell has received much less notice. But in my view the secrets of the cell nucleus are at least as important as those of the atomic nucleus and their revelation may yet prove to be man's greatest triumph in the second half of the twentieth century. In this revelation, the organic chemist must play a major role and the outlook for the young research worker is as bright and full of promise as it has ever been in the past.
In conclusion, I should like also to express on behalf of myself, my wife and my family our thanks for your warm welcome and your wonderful hospitality. We are indeed grateful and we will always cherish the memory of this occasion.
Prior to the speech, B. Karlgren, Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, addressed the laureate: You have, Sir Alexander, with a rare tenacity and a wonderful acumen pushed forward step by step into the enigmatic realm that now fascinates many of the keenest brains working in the field of organic chemistry, that of the fundamental structure of the cells. From your workshop in that venerable stronghold of learning and research, Cambridge, you have been able to issue bulletins announcing victories upon victories, time and again new domains conquered by you and your collaborators, and today no scholar can seriously approach this line of research without making constant and extensive use of your results. No wonder that your colleagues in the Stockholm Academy have been eager to signalize your conquests by aid of the Nobel prize. Our congratulations should best be formed as a fervent wish that you will be allowed to continue for many years your epoch-making studies.
Sir Alexander Robertus Todd was born in Glasgow on October 2, 1907, the elder son of Alexander Todd, a business man of that city, and his wife Jean Lowrie. He was educated at Allan Glen's School and Glasgow University, where he took his B.Sc. degree in 1928 and, after a short initial research training with T.S. Patterson he proceeded to the University of Frankfurt-on-Maine. Here he studied under W. Borsche and obtained his Ph.D. (Dr.Phil.nat.) in 1931 for a thesis on the chemistry of the bile acids.
Returning to England he worked from 1931-1934 on anthocyanins and other colouring matters with Sir Robert Robinson, the Nobel Prize winner, and took a Ph.D. degree at Oxford University in 1933.
Todd went back to Scotland in 1934 when he joined the staff of Edinburgh University under G. Barger. Two years later, i.e. in 1936 he moved to the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine, Chelsea, and became Reader in Biochemistry in the University of London in 1937.
In 1938 he was appointed as Sir Samuel Hall Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Chemical Laboratories of the University of Manchester, which position he held until 1944, when he accepted an appointment as Professor of Organic Chemistry at Cambridge University and Fellow of Christ's College.
Todd's work has gained him recognition in many universities and countries. He holds the D.Sc. degree of Glasgow University and has had bestowed upon him honorary doctorates from the Universities of Kiel (Dr.rer.nat.), Glasgow (LL.D.), Hon.D.Sc. London (1958), Madrid (1959), Exeter (1960), Leicester (1960), Aligarh (1960), and in 1961 Wales, Yale and Sheffeld; also Hon.LL.D. from Melbourne in 1960. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, foreign member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Spanish Council of Scientific Investigation, and an honorary member of the French, German and Spanish chemical societies and member of the Deutsche Akad. Naturforscher Leopoldina, Halle, (1959). He holds the Meldola Medal of the Royal Institute of Chemistry and the Society of Maccabeans; the Davy Medal and Royal Medal of the Royal Society, the Cannizaro Medal of the Italian Chemical Society and the Lavoisier Medal of the French Chemical Society. He has been Tilden Lecturer and Pedler Lecturer of the Chemical Society, Bakerian Lecturer of the Society of Chemical Industry, also visiting professor at California Institute of Technology (1938), the University of Chicago (1948), Sidney University (1950), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1954) and the University of California (1957). He was elected Hon. Member, New York Academy of Sciences (1959), Hon. Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (1960), President of the Chemical Society, London, 1960-1962, Master of the Worshipful Company of Salters, 1961-1962.
Todd has taken considerable interest in international scientific affairs; he is President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, and Chairman of the British National Committee for Chemistry. He has served on many Government Committees and in 1952 was elected Chairman of the British Government's Advisory Council on Scientific Policy. He is a Managing Trustee of the Nuff'eld Foundation.
The main subjects of Todd's researches have been the chemistry of natural products of biological importance and, in addition to the nucleotide and nucleotide coenzyme studies described in his Nobel Lecture, the chemistry of vitamins B1, E and B12, the constituents of Cannabis species, insect colouring matters, factors influencing obligate parasitism and various mould products.
Knighted in 1954, he was raised to the Peerage in March, 1962, being created Baron Todd of Trumpington.
Lord Todd is married to Alison Sarah, daughter of Nobel Prize winner Sir Henry Dale, and they have a son, Alexander Henry, and two daughters, Helen Jean and Hilary Alison.
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