Ian Heilbron

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Sir Ian Heilbron
Isidor Morris Heilbron

(1886-11-06)6 November 1886
Glasgow, Scotland
Died14 September 1959(1959-09-14) (aged 72)
Alma materRoyal Technical College and University of Leipzig
SpouseElda Marguerite Davis
Scientific career
FieldsOrganic chemistry
Academic advisorsArthur Rudolf Hantzsch

Sir Ian Heilbron DSO FRS (6 November 1886 – 14 September 1959) was a Scottish chemist,[2][3][4] who pioneered organic chemistry developed for therapeutic and industrial use.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Isidor Morris Heilbron was born in Glasgow on 6 November 1886 to a wine merchant (David Heilbron) and his wife (Fanny Jessel).[6] He was Jewish.[7][8]

He was educated at Glasgow High School and then the Royal Technical College with G. G. Henderson. Following an award of a Carnegie Fellowship he went to the University of Leipzig to study under Arthur Rudolf Hantzsch for his doctoral thesis (1907–1910).[9]

He was awarded a Ph.D. He received a D.Sc. at the University of Glasgow in 1918 for his 'Contribution to the Study of Semi-carbazones' and other papers.[6]

Military service[edit]

He served in the Royal Army Service Corps (1910–1920). He was awarded a Distinguished Service Order in 1918 for distinguished service related to operations in Salonika.[6] He was also appointed an Officer of the Order of the Redeemer by the Greek government. He achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel, Assistant Director of Supplies.[10]

During the Second World War from 1939 to 1942 he worked as a scientific advisor to the Department of Scientific Research in the Ministry of Supply. After 1942 he became a scientific advisor to the Ministry of Production.[citation needed]


His independent research career focused on the chemistry of natural products, including work on sterols, vitamin D, vitamin A, polyene synthesis, Squalene, terpenes, pyrylium salts, algal pigments, and spiropyrans.[10] He was also instrumental in the development of DDT to fight malaria and yellow fever.[11] Heilbron, with Arthur Herbert Cook, also studied the synthesis and structure of penicillin.[12]


Notable trainees[13][edit]

While at University of Liverpool[edit]

While at University of Manchester[edit]

While at Imperial College[edit]

While at Imperial Chemical Industries[edit]

Notable collaborators[edit]

While at University of Liverpool[edit]

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ a b Cook, A. H. (1960). "Ian Morris Heilbron. 1886–1959". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 6: 65–85. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1960.0025. ISSN 0080-4606.
  2. ^ Alan Cook (2004). "Heilbron, Sir Ian Morris [formerly Isidor Morris]". In Watson, K. D (ed.). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/33799. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ Profile of Ian Heilbron Archived 6 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "On This Day – Nov 06 : Ian Heilbron was born". RSC Education. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  5. ^ "HEILBRON, Sir Ian Morris". Who's Who & Who Was Who. Vol. 1920–2015 (2015 ed.). A & C Black. Retrieved 25 January 2015. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. ^ a b c "University of Glasgow :: Story : Biography of Lieutenant Colonel Isidore Morris Heilbron". universitystory.gla.ac.uk. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  7. ^ Rubinstein, W. D.; Jolles, Michael; Rubinstein, Hilary L., eds. (2011). The Palgrave dictionary of Anglo-Jewish history. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 410. ISBN 978-0-230-30466-6. OCLC 793104984.
  8. ^ Levy, A. (1955). "The Origins of Scottish Jewry". Transactions (Jewish Historical Society of England). 19: 129–162. ISSN 2047-2331. JSTOR 29777950.
  9. ^ a b c "Chemical & Engineering News: The Priestly Medal – 1945: Ian Morris Heilbron (1886–1959)". pubsapp.acs.org. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d e f "Isador M. Heilbron (1881–)". Journal of Chemical Education. 17 (2): 51. 1 February 1940. Bibcode:1940JChEd..17...51.. doi:10.1021/ed017p51. ISSN 0021-9584.
  11. ^ Heilbron, I. M. (1945). "The New Insecticidal Material DDT". Journal of the Royal Society of Arts. 93 (4682): 65–71. ISSN 0035-9114. JSTOR 41361779.
  12. ^ Billimoria, J. D.; Cook, A. H.; Heilbron, Ian (1949). "307. Studies in the azole series. Part XVI. Synthesis of a new analogue of penicillamine". Journal of the Chemical Society (Resumed): 1437–1440. doi:10.1039/jr9490001437. ISSN 0368-1769.
  13. ^ "Chemistry Tree – Ian (Isidore) Morris Heilbron Family Tree". academictree.org. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  14. ^ Gay, Hannah (2016). The Chemistry Department at Imperial College, London : a history, 1845–2000. Griffith, W. P. (William Pettitt), 1936–. New Jersey. p. 227. ISBN 978-1-78326-974-7. OCLC 965146304.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  15. ^ Goodwin, T W (1977). "R. A. Morton". Nature. 266 (5600): 394. doi:10.1038/266394a0. S2CID 31211784.