Issue Date: October 17, 2011
George W. Anderson
George W. Anderson, 97, an American Cyanamid synthetic organic chemist, died in Newberg, Ore., on Aug. 9.
Born in Gainesville, Fla., Anderson received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1935 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1939, both from the University of Florida.
Anderson then joined American Cyanamid in Stamford, Conn., and began research to develop new sulfa drugs. This effort led to the discovery of drugs to inhibit excess thyroid hormone production. In this work, Anderson modified thiouracil to produce 39 derivatives, including propylthiouracil, a drug still in use for treating thyroid conditions.
He began working in the area of peptide synthesis in 1950. With his research group, he developed an improved coupling method using the reagent tetraethyl pyrophosphite. This reagent was later used by Vincent du Vigneaud, who won the 1955 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, to produce the first synthetic peptide hormone, oxytocin.
Subsequently, Anderson moved to American Cyanamid’s Lederle Laboratories division, in Pearl River, N.Y., where he was appointed a research associate in 1956. Remaining active at the bench, Anderson improved on the synthesis and purification of N-hydroxysuccinimide, which was the key to his group’s development of activated N-hydroxysuccinimide esters for peptide synthesis. This method enabled their synthesis of the thyroid hormone thyrocalcitonin, which lowers calcium levels in blood plasma and inhibits resorption of bone, based on the structure determined by Paul H. Bell and his group at Lederle.
Anderson retired from American Cyanamid in 1978. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1936.
He is survived by his sons, Frederic and George; daughters, Gail Ducey, Heidi Granholm, and Brooks Clark; nine grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. Anderson’s wife, Mildred Ann (Pat), died in 2002.
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