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Biological Chemistry

Eschenmoser Wins Franklin Medal in Chemistry

by Linda Wang
April 7, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 14

Albert Eschenmoser, professor emeritus at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH), and a professor at Scripps Research Institute, is the winner of the 2008 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry.

He is among nine winners of this year's Franklin Institute Awards, which recognize individuals whose innovations have benefited humanity, advanced science, and launched new fields of inquiry.

Eschenmoser is being honored for his seminal investigations into the origin of nucleic acid structure. Over the span of his career, he has made contributions to the theory of terpene biosynthesis, structure elucidation of natural products, stereochemistry and mechanism of organochemical and biochemical reactions, development of new methods for organic synthesis, and total synthesis of complex natural products.

One of his most notable achievements was the total synthesis of vitamin B-12, achieved in 1972 with Nobel Laureate Robert B. Woodward. Both the widely used Eschenmoser fragmentation reaction and Eschenmoser's salt bear his name.

Eschenmoser's current research focuses on the chemical etiology of nucleic acid structure. His synthesis of alternative backbone structures for DNA and RNA suggests that there may be more possibilities than the structures found in nature.

This section is compiled by Linda Wang. Announcements of awards may be sent to a


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