Sir Derek Harold Richard Barton

Sir Derek Harold Richard Barton
(1918 - 1998)

British joint recipient, with Odd Hassel of Norway, of the 1969 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for research that helped establish conformational analysis (the study of the three-dimensional geometric structure of complex molecules) as an essential part of organic chemistry.
In 1945 Barton joined the staff of the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, first as an assistant lecturer and later as a research fellow. While serving as a visiting professor at Harvard University in 1949-50, he began work that led to his seminal publication (1950) on conformational analysis, which immediately caught the attention of the scientific community and revolutionized organic chemistry.

A faculty member of Birkbeck College, University of London, from 1950, Barton served as professor of chemistry at the University of Glasgow (1955-57) and then became professor of organic chemistry at Imperial College (1957-78). After serving as director of research (1977-85) with the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) at the Institute of Organic Chemistry (ICSN) in Gif-sur-Yvette, France, he took a distinguished professorship at Texas A&M University in the United States.

In 1958 he discovered the Barton reaction, a process that led to an easier means of synthesizing the hormone aldosterone. He was knighted in 1972.

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