Robert R. Williams

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Robert Runnels Williams
Born (1886-02-16)February 16, 1886
Nellore, British India
Died October 2, 1965(1965-10-02) (aged 79)
Summit, New Jersey
Residence Freiberg, Saxony.
Nationality American
Citizenship American
Alma mater University of Chicago
Known for Synthesis of thiamine.
Awards Willard Gibbs Award (1938)
Elliott Cresson Medal (1940)
Perkin Medal (1947)
Scientific career
Fields Chemistry
Institutions Bell Telephone Laboratories

Robert Runnels Williams (February 16, 1886 – October 2, 1965) was an American chemist, known for being the first to synthesize thiamine (vitamin B1).[1] He first isolated thiamine in 1933, and synthesized vitamin B in 1935. Among his awards were the Elliott Cresson Medal in 1940 and the Perkin Medal in 1947. His brother was Roger J. Williams, another important chemist at the time and discoverer of Vitamin B5.


He was born in Nellore, India to Baptist missionaries. He moved to the United States when he was ten. In the early 1900s, Williams studied at Ottawa University and eventually procured a master's degree at the University of Chicago in 1908. He then spent some time teaching in the Philippines. After returning to the United States, he worked for Bell Telephone Laboratories from 1915, until he retired in 1945.[2]

A resident of Summit, New Jersey, Williams died there at the age of 79 on October 2, 1965.[3]



  1. ^ Williams, R.R. and Cline, J.K. (1936). Synthesis of vitamin B1. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 58: 1504-1505.
  2. ^ Asimov, Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 2nd revised edition
  3. ^ Staff. "ELIZABETH HOWELL ENGAGED TO MARRY; Ex-Student at Hewlett School to Be Bride of Fergus Reid Buckley, Who Is at Yale Abrams--Rubin Williams--Wiederspahn", The New York Times, January 20, 1951. Accessed February 19, 2011.

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