Moses Wolf Goldberg

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Moses Wolf Goldberg
Born June 30, 1905
Rūjiena, Governorate of Livonia (present-day Latvia)
Died February 17, 1964
Montclair, New Jersey
Nationality Estonian
Fields Chemistry
Doctoral advisor Leopold Ružička
Known for Biotin synthesis and development of other pharmaceuticals
Notable awards Werner Medal and Werner Prize of the Swiss Chemical Society (1940)[1]

Dr Moses Wolf Goldberg (June 30, 1905 – February 17, 1964) was an Estonian-Jewish chemist who, along with Leo Henryk Sternbach, developed a process for the synthesis of biotin (a B vitamin) in 1949.


Moses Wolf Goldberg was born in Rūjiena, Latvia in 1905 and moved to Võru, Estonia as a young child. Goldberg attended the German Oberrealschule in Tartu and studied science and mathematics at the University of Tartu from 1923 to 1924.[2] He then enrolled at ETH Zurich, where he earned a Diploma in Chemical Engineering. He did his doctoral work under Nobel Prize winner Leopold Ružička and was a colleague of other notable chemists, including Tadeus Reichstein,[3] Leo Henryk Sternbach, and George Rosenkranz. In 1931, he submitted a doctoral thesis entitled Versuche zur Synthese Ephedrin-ähnlicher Körper (Assay for Synthesis of an Ephedrine-Like Body)[2] and earned the Habilitation degree in 1935 despite increasing xenophobia at the institution.[4] In 1940, Goldberg was awarded the Werner Medal and Werner Prize of the Swiss Chemical Society.[1]

Due to the increasingly unwelcoming climate for Jews in Europe, in 1942 Goldberg emigrated to the United States along with many other Jewish scientists fleeing the Nazis.[5] He took a position with Hoffmann-La Roche at the company's Nutley, New Jersey facility. With Leo Sternbach, Goldberg patented a process for synthesizing biotin in 1949.[6] He obtained numerous other patents while working for Hoffmann-La Roche, identifying and refining antibiotics and other drugs.

Goldberg died at the age of 58 in February, 1964.[7]


Moses Wolf Goldberg was the son of Meyer Itzik Goldberg and Kayla Hanna Gibberman. His parents were born in Bauska, Latvia, and they married in Riga in 1904. He had a younger brother, Leo (b. 1907),[8] who also studied at the University of Tartu,[9] and a sister Miriam (b. 1909).[10] His father Meyer Itzik Goldberg was deported to Siberia, and died or was killed in the SevUralLag camp in December 1941.[11] His mother Kayla Hanna Goldberg and sister-in-law Erna Furman Goldberg (Leo's wife) were deported to Nedostupny,[12] in the Tomsk region of Siberia, and probably perished there. His sister Miriam and her husband Leo Klionski fled with other Jewish refugees to Tashkent, Uzbekistan;[13][14] Leo Klionski survived the war and returned to Estonia, but it is unclear what happened to Miriam. Leo Goldberg was not deported in 1941, and his fate is unknown.[12]

Moses Wolf Goldberg married Regina Hauser in Switzerland around 1928, and they emigrated together in January 1942 along with Regina's mother Ida Hauser.[15] They had no children.


  1. ^ a b Rupe H (1944). "Die Schweizerische Chemische Gesellschaft in den Jahren 1901-1941 (The Swiss Chemical Society in the Years 1901-1941)". Helvetica Chimica Acta. Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  2. ^ a b "Versuche zur Synthese Ephedrin ähnlicher-Körper". Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  3. ^ "Leopold Ruzicka und das Verhältnis von Wissenschaft und Wirtschaft in der Chemie (Leopold Ruzicka and the relationship between science and industry in chemistry)". Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  4. ^ "Die Helvetisierung der Dozentenschaft (The 'Swissification' of the Faculty)". Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  5. ^ Prelog V and Jeger O (November 1980). "Leopold Ruzicka". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 26: 411–501. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1980.0013. JSTOR 769790. 
  6. ^ Goldberg MW and Sternbach LH. "Synthesis of Biotin". Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  7. ^ "Dr. Moses W. Goldberg (obituary)". The New York Times. February 19, 1964. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  8. ^ "Estonian Jews Database, Reference #2741 (Leo Goldberg)". Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  9. ^ "Jewish Students of the Tartu University 1918-1944". Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  10. ^ "Estonian Jews Database, Reference #2744 (Miriam Goldberg)". Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  11. ^ Salo V. "The list of Jews deported from Estonia in June 1941" (PDF). 
  12. ^ a b "KÜÜDITAMINE 1941 (Deported in 1941)". Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  13. ^ "Tashkent Refugee Card, Miriam Klionskaia". Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  14. ^ "Tashkent Refugee Card, Leo Klionski". Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  15. ^ "25 here from Europe on Atlantic Clipper". The New York Times. January 12, 1942. Retrieved 2010-05-22.