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Sir Alexander Todd Baron Todd of Trumpington

Organic Chemist
Born 2 October 1907, Glasgow, Scotland.
Died 10 January 1997.

A Nobel prizewinning chemist, honoured for his research on nucleotides and nucleotide co-enzymes.

Connection to the University of Glasgow: Alumnus, Honorary Graduate
GU Degrees: BSc, 1928; LLD, 1950; DSc, 1937;

Discover more organic chemists on the University of Glasgow Story website


The following achievement is associated with Sir Alexander Todd Baron Todd of Trumpington:

Work on nucleotides and nucleotide co-enzymes
The 1957 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to Sir Alexander Todd for his work on the structure and synthesis of nucleotides, nucleosides, and nucleotide coenzymes. His research led directly to the understanding of nucleic acids and Watson and Crick discovering the helical structure of DNA in 1953.


The following honours are associated with this person:


Sir Alexander Robertus Todd, Baron Todd of Trumpington (1907-1997) was a graduate of the University who was awarded an LLD in 1950. In 1957 he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for his work on nucleotides and nucleotide co-enzymes."

Born in Glasgow, Todd studied Chemistry at the University and graduated BSc with first class honours in 1928. In 1929 he published his first academic paper, with the Gardiner Professor of Chemistry Thomas Patterson, and he worked with Patterson as a Carnegie Research Scholar in 1928-1929. He continued his studies in Germany, graduating DrPhilNat from the University of Frankfurt in 1931, and returned to Britain as the 1851 Exhibition Senior Student at Oxford. He went on to work as a researcher at the University of Edinburgh and the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine, establishing his reputation as one of the country's leading organic chemists. The University of Glasgow awarded him a DSc in 1937 for his thesis Studies in the Chemistry of Aneurin (Vitamin B1).

In 1938, Todd was appointed Sir Samuel Hall Professor of Chemistry at the University of Manchester. He went on to become Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Cambridge from 1944 until 1971. He was Master of Christ's College, Cambridge from 1963 until 1978 and was the first Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, from 1965 until 1991.

Todd's pioneering work on the structure of nucleic acids laid the foundations for research to establish the general formula of DNA. He was was knighted in 1954 and created a life peer in 1962. Among many other honours, he was President of the Royal Society from 1975 until 1980.