British chemist, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1947
for his research on a wide range of organic compounds, notably alkaloids.
Robinson conducted research on the structure and synthesis of many
different organic compounds. His early studies of plant pigments enabled
him to synthesize anthocyanins and flavones, but his most important
studies were undertaken on alkaloids; these are complex, naturally occurring,
nitrogen-containing compounds that can have profound biochemical effects
on living things. Robinson's efforts to determine the chemical reactions
that form alkaloids in plants led him to discover the structures of
morphine (1925) and strychnine (1946). He also formulated a qualitative
electronic theory of the structure of organic molecules. His research
played a role in the synthesis of penicillin and of certain antimalarial
drugs as well. Robinson wrote over 500 papers and several books on natural
products but in addition he was an avid chess player who wrote "The
Art and Science of Chess: A Step-by-Step Approach".
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