Tadeus Reichstein

Tadeus Reichstein (Quarles van Ufford) was born on July 20, 1897 in Wloclawek, Poland. The family moved to Switzerland in 1906. Educated in Zurich, he held posts in the department of organic chemistry at the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, from 1930. From 1946 to 1967 he was professor of organic chemistry at the University of Basel. He died on August 1, 1996 in Basel, Switzerland.

He gained his scientific merits in many fields of research such as total synthesis of ascorbic acid, structure elucidation of steroid hormones, namely aldosteron, and his leading research in the chemistry of cardiac glycosides, just to mention a few of his research topics. The field of secondary plant products brought him back to the neighbouring area of botany and plant taxonomy. He made a contribution to the studies of structure and properties of sugars, vitamins, steroids, and cardiac glucosides contained in plants.

He studied the structure of hormones in the adrenal glands and isolated various biologically active substances. Apart from hormone research, he was the first who artificially synthesizes vitamin C (ascorbic acid) - first vitamin synthesis (1933), a feat achieved about the same time in England by Sir Walter N. Haworth and co-workers. He also laid the foundation for the industrial production of Vitamin C. In 1936 he isolated cortisone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, ACTH and some others hormones of suprarenal gland. Reichstein's researches on steroids, particularly on hormones of the adrenal cortex, paralleled those of Kendall in the United States; his "substance F," described and named by him in 1936, proved identical to Kendall's "compound E," or cortisone. Cortisone is now used to treat conditions ranging from skin rash to joint disorders. ACTH is a widely-used drug to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

In 1947 Tadeus Reichstein received the Honorary Doctorate of the Sorbonne, Paris. Tadeus Reichstein, Philip Showalter Hench and Edward Calvin Kendall, shared in 1950 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discoveries relating to the hormones of the adrenal cortex, their structure and biological effects. He was a member of Swiss Academy of Medicine (1951) and London Royal Society (1952). Reichstein was awarded the Copley Medal of the British Royal Society in 1968. In 1971 Tadeus Reichstein became an Honorary Member of the Society for Medicinal Plant Research.

Since being made Emeritus Professor in 1967 he has worked full-time on ferns. His interests were wide-ranging and global. Tadeus Reichstein was in correspondence with pteridologists from many parts of the world. His fascination was for polyploid fern complexes, but he also has spent many years working on the pteridophytes for Flora Iranica. He continued to use his expertise in organic chemistry in the investigation of phloroglucinols in Dryopteris. In all his fern work he was a great collaborator, and practically all his fern papers have been multi-authored. An exception is a favourite subject, his 1981 paper on "Hybrids in European Aspleniaceae (Pteridophyta)", Bot. Helv. 91: 89-139.

The Reichstein Medal of the Swiss Society of Pharmaceutical Sciences was created for excellence in pharmaceutical sciences in honor of Professor Tadeus Reichstein.

Related links

Tadeus Reichstein - The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1950 from The Nobel Foundation
Tadeus Reichstein - 1950 Nobel Laureate in Medicine
Tadeus Reichstein (Professional Experience)
The Passing of an Era

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Last Updated: 21 October 2007