Alexander Todd (1907-1997)

Alexander Todd was a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and a pioneer in the development of the study of nucleic acids.

After receiving a First in Chemistry at Glasgow University in 1928, Todd obtained his first PhD at the University of Frankfurt in 1931. Todd then came to Oxford to study for a further PhD under Nobel Prize winner Sir Robert Robinson and arrived at Oriel College in 1931.

Todd left Oxford in 1934 and in his early academic career he worked at Edinburgh University, the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine, Chelsea, the University of London, and the University of Manchester before he was appointed as Professor of Organic Chemistry at Cambridge University and Fellow of Christ’s College in 1944.

Todd was awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1957 in recognition of his 1951 work on the structures and syntheses of nucleosides, nucleotides, and their coenzymes. This led the way for James Watson and Francis Crick to make their own discovery about the double-helix structure of DNA in 1952.

Todd received many honours during his lifetime, including a knighthood, and a life peerage He was elected President of the Royal Society in 1975 and held the post until 1980.

More about Alexander Todd: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography