Elias J. Corey Receives
by Michael Parker (May
Elias J. Corey
Elias J. Corey, the 1990 recipient of the
Nobel Prize in chemistry, was awarded an honorary
doctor of science degree from the University
at Albany during an honorary degree convocation
April 25 in the Life Sciences Research Building.
President Kermit L. Hall hosted the event.
Corey, Sheldon Emory Professor of Chemistry
at Harvard University, has been widely recognized
for his distinguished career as a scientist,
teacher, and industry consultant. In addition
to the Nobel Prize, Corey was also awarded
the Priestly Medal in 2004, the highest award
given by the American Chemical Society for
extraordinary intellectual achievements, outstanding
professional and public service, and a high
standard of excellence. In 1988, Corey was
honored with the National Medal of Science
from President Ronald Reagan.
Corey's work has included theoretical organic chemistry, development of
new synthetic methods, and synthesis of biologically important natural products.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize "for his development of the theory and methodology
of organic synthesis." While still a student at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, Corey began developing the theories for which he would be recognized.
His 1989 book The Logic of Chemical Synthesis, co-written with Xue-Min Cheng,
laid out the principles of strategic disconnections, an approach Corey has been
teaching to graduate students since the 1960s.
Two of Corey's former students also went on to earn the Nobel Prize: Bengt
Samuelson in 1982 for physiology and medicine, and Ryoji Noyori in 2001 for chemistry.
"Corey had the amazing ability to run
a group of 40 scientists at one time, each
having important, original projects to work
on, and each having unrestricted daily access
to him," said Distinguished Professor
of Chemistry Eric Block, who received his Ph.D.
at Harvard with Corey in 1967. "His scientific
ideas are so good, and his publications so
prolific and notable, that he was recently
acknowledged as the single most highly cited
current author in the field of chemistry. Those
lucky enough to work for Corey found that his
personal interest in his now more than 700
former students continued even after they left
Harvard. I can personally recall instances
of this generosity of time and thoughtfulness
over the years."