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
Spouse(s)Elda Marguerite Heilbron (Davis)
Childrentwo sons
Scientific career
FieldsOrganic chemistry
Academic advisorsArthur Rudolf Hantzsch

Sir Ian Morris 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]

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. In 1918 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.


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 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]

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. ukwhoswho.com. Vol. 1920–2015 (2015 ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. 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.