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Gabriel Saucy

by Susan J. Ainsworth
January 26, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 4

Gabriel Saucy, 86, a noted Hoffmann-La Roche synthetic organic chemist, died on Nov. 8, 2014.

Born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, Saucy received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1954 from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, under Nobelist Leopold Ružička.

After joining Hoffmann-La Roche in Basel, Switzerland, in 1954, Saucy became part of a team that devised innovative and practical methods for producing vitamin A and carotenoids as well as fragrance chemicals for then-Roche subsidiary Givaudan. During this time, he developed and relied on the Saucy-Marbet rearrangement of propargyl vinyl ethers.

Saucy spent two years at Roche’s Nutley, N.J., operations as part of a scientist exchange program, before relocating to the U.S. facility permanently in 1964. Subsequently, he was named director of chemical process research and development, overseeing projects involving processes for producing vitamin E, vitamin C, contraceptive steroids, and carotenoids having anticancer activity. His work resulted in more than 200 patents and publications.

After retiring from Roche in 1985, Saucy joined Bio-Mega Inc. in Montreal as vice president of R&D. He then held a similar position at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, Fla., directing the isolation and characterization of marine natural products with biological activity. He was also a consultant for Bio-Technical Resources in Manitowoc, Wis.

Saucy was a member of the editorial board of Organic Syntheses and served as its editor-in-chief.

He was a member of the Swiss Chemical Society and the New York Academy of Sciences and an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1960.

Saucy is survived by his wife, Sonia; two children; and six grandchildren.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.


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