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Organic Chemistry at Edinburgh : Prof. E. L. Hirst, F. R. S

Nature volume 159, pages 701702 (24 May 1947) | Download Citation



PROF. E. L. HIRST, at present Sir Samuel Hall professor and director of the Chemical Laboratories in the University of Manchester, has been appointed to the newly instituted Forbes chair of organic chemistry in the University of Edinburgh. Prof. Hirst, who was born in 1898, was educated at the Northgate School, Ipswich, and Madras College, St. Andrews. After graduating M.A. in Latin, Greek and logic at the University of St. Andrews, Hirst proceeded there to the degrees of B.Sc. and Ph.D. in chemistry under Prof, (later Sir) J. C. Irvine. While at St. Andrews he made notable contributions to the chemistry of cellulose and the structure of simple sugars. He was an assistant in chemistry at St. Andrews during the brief professoriate of (Sir) Robert Robinson, and moved with him to Manchester. In 1924 Hirst was appointed lecturer in Armstrong College, University of Durham, where Prof, (now Sir) Norman Haworth, with whom he had worked in St. Andrews,' had established a school of carbohydrate chemistry. Haworth was appointed to Birmingham in 1925, and in the following year Hirst followed him ; Hirst was appointed reader in the chemistry of natural products in 1935. This period marked a tremendous advance in carbohydrate chemistry, when the ring forms of sugar and glycosides were given precise definition, the constitution of all the important disaccharides was established, and great advances in the chemistry of starch, glycogen and cellulose were made. Hirst's most spectacular work at this time was the determination of the constitution of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and its synthesis {in association with Haworth), representing the first laboratory synthesis of a vitamin.

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