Ev­ery week we’ll high­light fa­mous Glaswe­gians

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Lord Alexan­der Todd was a No­bel Prize-win­ning chemist, whose love of the sub­ject was sparked by a toy chem­istry set he had grow­ing up in Cath­cart.


He was born in Glas­gow on Oc­to­ber 2, 1907, the el­der son of Alexan­der Todd, a busi­ness man, and his wife Jean Lowrie. At the age of 50, he was awarded the pres­ti­gious No­bel Prize in Chem­istry for his work on nu­cleo­tides and nu­cleo­tide co-en­zymes. His work laid the foun­da­tions for re­search to es­tab­lish DNA’s gen­eral for­mula.


Ed­u­cated at Al­lan Glen’s School and Glas­gow Univer­sity, where he took his BSc de­gree in 1928, Lord Todd stud­ied in Ger­many – he went to Frank­furt to take his DPhil with the Ger­man or­ganic chemist Walther Borsche – and in Eng­land be­fore re­turn­ing to Scot­land in 1934. He was knighted in 1954.


He held a string of im­por­tant roles at uni­ver­si­ties across the UK, and his work has gained him recog­ni­tion around the world. He held honorary doc­tor­ates from 11 uni­ver­si­ties, he was a Fel­low of the Royal So­ci­ety and a for­eign mem­ber of the Na­tional Academy of Sciences, the Amer­i­can Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Aus­trian Academy of Sciences and the Span­ish Coun­cil of Sci­en­tific In­ves­ti­ga­tion, plus an honorary mem­ber of the French, Ger­man and Span­ish chem­i­cal so­ci­eties.


Lord Todd has won many awards, in ad­di­tion to the crown­ing glory of the No­bel Prize, and was an ad­vi­sor to the Gov­ern­ment on many oc­ca­sions. Peo­ple came from all over the world to work with him. He died in 1997 in Cam­bridge. The Univer­sity of Strath­clyde has named a build­ing in his hon­our.

He laid the foun­da­tions for re­search on DNA’s gen­eral for­mula

Lord Provost Robert Gray presents the Lov­ing Cup to Lord Todd in 1986 – the pro­fes­sor was cru­cial in lay­ing the foun­da­tions for later re­search on DNA

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