Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Sertürner
19 June 1783|
20 February 1841 (aged 57)|
|Known for||discovering morphine|
|Fields||Pharmacology, Alkaloid chemistry|
Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Sertürner was born to Joseph Simon Serdinner and Marie Therese Brockmann on 19 June 1783, in Neuhaus, North Rhine-Westphalia (now part of Paderborn). After his parents died, he became a pharmacist's apprentice in Paderborn.
Sertürner was the first to isolate morphine from opium. He called the isolated alkaloid "morphium" after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus. He published a comprehensive paper on its isolation, crystallization, crystal structure, and pharmacological properties, which he studied first in stray dogs and then in self-experiments. Morphine was not only the first alkaloid to be extracted from opium, but the first ever alkaloid to be isolated from any plant. Thus Sertürner became the first person to isolate the active ingredient associated with a medicinal plant or herb. The branch of science that he originated has since become known as alkaloid chemistry.
In 1806 Serturner moved to Einbeck, working as a pharmacists' assistant. In 1809, Sertürner opened the first pharmacy he owned, in Einbeck. He continued to investigate the effects of morphine. After the publication of his paper "Ueber das Morphium als Hauptbestandteil des Opiums" in 1817, his work on morphine became more widely known and morphine became more widely used. In 1822, Serturner bought the main pharmacy in Hamelin (Rathaus Apotheke), where he worked until his death on February 20, 1841. He was buried in Einbeck.
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