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Emmett L. Buhle

by Susan J. Ainsworth
October 3, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 40

Emmett L. Buhle, 93, a retired Wyeth Laboratories organic chemist, died on July 31.

Born in Moline, Ill., Buhle earned an A.B. in chemistry at Johns Hopkins University in 1939. During World War II, he worked as a civilian at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, surveying drugs that had the potential to treat and prevent malaria. In 1947, Buhle completed a Ph.D. in chemistry at Johns Hopkins under Kenneth C. Blanchard.

Buhle then accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working with John C. Sheehan, and alongside Sheehan’s students E. J. Corey and G. D. Laubach, in the quest for a total synthesis of penicillin. In 1950, Buhle returned to Johns Hopkins, accepting a faculty position in the School of Medicine’s pharmacology department.

In 1954, Buhle joined DuPont Experimental Station, conducting polymer research. Four years later, he moved to Wyeth Laboratories in West Chester, Pa., where he synthesized the progestational steroid Ovral (norgestrel) and worked on its scale-up from the laboratory bench to commercial production. In 1984, he retired from Wyeth as the product development coordinator.

Buhle was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1942; he was active in the Delaware Section.

He was predeceased by his wife, Elsie, and son Gordon. He is survived by three sons, Chris, Warren, and Loren; and five grandchildren.

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