Ernest Fourneau

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Ernest Fourneau
Jean-Claude Fourneau. Portrait d'Ernest Fourneau.jpg
Portrait of Ernest Fourneau
by his son Jean-Claude Fourneau
Born(1872-10-04)4 October 1872
Died5 August 1949(1949-08-05) (aged 76)
Alma materÉcole de pharmacie de Paris
AwardsPrix Jecker, of the Académie des Sciences (1919 and 1931)
Scientific career
FieldsChemistry, Pharmacology
InstitutionsPasteur Institute
Notable studentsThérèse Tréfouël, Jacques Tréfouël
Son-in-law of Paul Segond
Brother-in-law of Marc Tiffeneau
Father of Jean-Claude Fourneau

Ernest Fourneau (4 October 1872 – 5 August 1949) was a French medicinal chemist who played a major role in the discovery of synthetic local anesthetics, as well as in the synthesis of suramin. He authored more than two hundred scholarly works, and has been described as having "helped to establish the fundamental laws of chemotherapy that have saved so many human lives".[1][2]

Fourneau was a pupil of Friedel and Moureu, and studied in the German laboratories of Ludwig Gattermann in Heidelberg, Hermann Emil Fischer in Berlin and Richard Willstätter in Munich. He headed the research laboratory of Poulenc Frères in Ivry-sur-Seine from 1903 to 1911. One of the products was a synthetic local anesthetic that was named Stovaine (amylocaine). This was a pun on the English translation of "fourneau" as "stove".[3] (The same pun was used in the brand name of the drug acetarsol, Stovarsol.) Other important medicines were antipyretics.[4] In 1910 Fourneau accepted the directorship of the Pasteur Institute's medical chemistry section, with the condition that he maintained his ties with Poulenc Frères.[3] He recruited Germaine Benoit to work in the Institute as a new graduate.[5]

He was a member of the Académie Nationale de Médecine.


  • Fourneau, Jean-Pierre (December 1987). "Ernest Fourneau, fondateur de la chimie thérapeutique française : Feuillets d'album". Revue d'histoire de la pharmacie (in French). 34 (275): 335–355. ISSN 0035-2349. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  • Quirke, Viviane (2007). Collaboration in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Changing Relationschips in Britain and France, 1935-1965. Medical History. Vol. 53. New York & London: Rougledge. pp. 54–70 and 173–177 mainly. ISBN 978-0-415-30982-0. PMC 2706064.


  1. ^ "Fourneau, Ernest". Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 2008.
  2. ^ Henry, T. A., "Ernest Fourneau". 1872–1949. J. Chem. Soc., 1952, pp. 261–272.
  3. ^ a b Lesch 2007, p. 124.
  4. ^ Michel 2016, p. 7.
  5. ^ "Germaine Benoit (1901-1983) - Notice biographique". Retrieved 2022-01-21.