John Cornforth
Sir John Warcup 'Kappa' Cornforth, AC
Order of Australia
The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, "for the purpose of according recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service"...

Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

, FRS (born 7 September 1917), is an Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature,...

 in 1975 for his work on the stereochemistry
Stereochemistry, a subdiscipline of chemistry, involves the study of the relative spatial arrangement of atoms within molecules. An important branch of stereochemistry is the study of chiral molecules....

 of enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

-catalyzed reactions.

He became completely deaf by the age of 20 due to the progressive disease otosclerosis
Otosclerosis is an abnormal growth of bone near the middle ear. It can result in hearing loss.-Clinical description:Otosclerosis can result in conductive and/or sensorineural hearing loss...


Early life

Cornforth was born in Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

, and educated at Sydney Boys High School
Sydney Boys High School
Sydney Boys High School is an academically selective public secondary school for boys, located in the City of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, with 1,180 students, from years 7 to 12...

 and the University of Sydney
University of Sydney
The University of Sydney is a public university located in Sydney, New South Wales. The main campus spreads across the suburbs of Camperdown and Darlington on the southwestern outskirts of the Sydney CBD. Founded in 1850, it is the oldest university in Australia and Oceania...

 (from 16 years of age) where he met his wife Rita Harradence.

He studied organic chemistry
Organic chemistry
Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives...

 in the School of Chemistry
Sydney School of Chemistry
The School of Chemistry is a constituent body of the Faculty of Science at the University of Sydney, Australia.Two Nobel Laureates are associated with the School: John Cornforth completed his undergraduate degree in the School, graduating in 1938 with First Class Honours and the University Medal;...

 at the University of Sydney and graduated with first-class honours and the University medal in 1937. He won a scholarship to study at Oxford University, and moved there with Rita.

His mother, Hilda Eipper (1887–1969), was the granddaughter of Christopher Eipper
Christopher Eipper
Christoph Eipper, was a pioneering missionary and Presbyterian minister in Australia.Christoph Eipper was born to Georg Christoph Eipper and Sophie Juliane Schaettler...



Cornforth had a profound influence on the work on penicillin
Penicillin is a group of antibiotics derived from Penicillium fungi. They include penicillin G, procaine penicillin, benzathine penicillin, and penicillin V....

 during the war. He helped to write The Chemistry of Penicillin (Princeton University Press, 1949), He received his Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

 with Vladimir Prelog
Vladimir Prelog
Vladimir Prelog FRS was a Croatian chemist and Nobel Prize winner in chemistry. Prelog lived and worked in Prague, Zagreb and Zürich during his lifetime.-Biography:...

 in 1975, the year at which he moved to Sussex University as a Royal Society Research Professor. He was knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

ed in 1977. He was awarded the Corday-Morgan medal in 1953, Royal Medal
Royal Medal
The Royal Medal, also known as The Queen's Medal, is a silver-gilt medal awarded each year by the Royal Society, two for "the most important contributions to the advancement of natural knowledge" and one for "distinguished contributions in the applied sciences" made within the Commonwealth of...

 in 1976 and the Copley Medal
Copley Medal
The Copley Medal is an award given by the Royal Society of London for "outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science, and alternates between the physical sciences and the biological sciences"...

 in 1982.

He is a member of the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 and is still very active in chemistry research at the University of Sussex
University of Sussex
The University of Sussex is an English public research university situated next to the East Sussex village of Falmer, within the city of Brighton and Hove. The University received its Royal Charter in August 1961....

. He was named the Australian of the Year
Australian of the Year
Since 1960 the Australian of the Year Award has been part of the celebrations surrounding Australia Day , during which time the award has grown steadily in significance to become Australia’s pre-eminent award. The Australian of the Year announcement has become a very prominent part of the annual...

 in 1975, jointly with Major General Alan Stretton
Alan Stretton
Major General Alan Bishop Stretton AO CBE is a former senior Australian Army officer.Stretton began his military career serving with the 2/9th Battalion after graduating from the Royal Military College, Duntroon during the Second World War...


External links

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