Professor Sir Alan Battersby

Honorary Fellow
The chemistry of living systems. Isolation work, structure determination, synthesis, isotopic labelling and spectroscopy have been combined in these studies synergistically with enzymology and molecular biology. Three main themes can be picked out: (a) biosynthesis of alkaloids; (b) stereochemistry of enzymic reactions; (c) the major theme of his career, elucidation of the biosynthesis of porphyrins and chlorins including haem, chlorophyll and vitamin B12.
Emeritus 1702 Chair of Chemistry

Studied for BSc and MSc at University of Manchester before moving (1946) to St Andrews for PhD (1949), gained DSc from Bristol University (1962) and ScD from Cambridge (1973). Appointed Lecturer at St Andrews (1948-1953), was awarded a Commonwealth Fellowship to study (1950-52) first at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York and then at the University of Illinois, Urbana. He joined the University of Bristol (1954-1962) as Lecturer then was invited to a Chair at University of Liverpool (1962-1969). In 1969, was invited to a Chair of Organic Chemistry at the University of Cambridge and in 1988, was elected to the 1702 Chair which he held until 1992. Elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), 1966 and in 1992 was Knighted for his lifetime contributions to science. He has been awarded 20 national and international Medals including the Wolf Prize in Chemistry (1989, Israel), the Roger Adams Award (1982, USA), the Feltrinelli International Prize for Chemistry (1986, Italy) together with the Royal Medal (1984) and the highly prestigious Copley Medal (2000) both from the Royal Society.

  • The Biosynthesis of Alkaloids, Tilden Lecture, Proc. Chem. Soc., 1963, 189
  • Some Applications of Tritium Labelling for the Exploration of Biochemical Mechanisms. Accounts of Chemical Research, 1972, 5, 148
  • How Nature builds the Pigments of Life. Pure and Appl. Chem., 1993, 65, 1113-1122
  • Vitamin B12: How the Problem of Its Biosynthesis Was Solved. Angew. Chem., 1995, 107, 421-452. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl., 1995, 34, 383-411
  • The Marvels of Biosynthesis; Tracking Nature's Pathways. Bioorg. and Med. Chem., 1996, 4, 937-964.

He has published in addition 437 original research publications.