Raphael, Ralph Alexander

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RAPHAEL, RALPH ALEXANDER (1921–1998) British organic chemist. Raphael was born in Croydon, Greater London, and educated at Wesley College, Dublin and Tottenham County School, where he was inspired to study science by Edgar Ware. He graduated B.Sc. (1941), Ph.D. (1943, under the supervision of I. Heilbron and E.R.H. Jones), and D.Sc. (1952) from Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London. Raphael was head of the chemotherapy research unit of the pharmaceutical company May and Baker (1943–46) and then ici research fellow at Imperial College (1946–49). He was lecturer in chemistry at Glasgow University (1949–54) before his appointment as the first professor of organic chemistry at Queen's University, Belfast (1954–57), where he established a new department. He returned to Glasgow University as Regius Professor of Chemistry (1957–1972). Later, he was appointed professor of organic chemistry at Cambridge University and Fellow of Christ's College (1972–88). Raphael's research started with his Ph.D. thesis and mainly concerned the chemistry of acetylenic compounds and their application to the synthesis of a wide range of novel products derived from natural substances. He was the first to synthesize penicillinic acid and linoleic acid. He synthesized novel compounds related to carbohydrate synthesis and many other compounds of great theoretical and practical importance. He also developed new pathways for synthesizing histamine and many alkaloids. He was an outstanding teacher and he established thriving research and teaching departments in the universities where he held chairs. He served on the governing committees of his own and other universities and of the societies with which he was associated. His many honors included election to the Royal Society of London (1962) and the award of its Davy Medal (1981), the Ciba-Geigy Award for Synthetic Chemistry (1975), and appointment as c.b.e. (1982). He was visiting professor at the Haifa Technion and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1981). He married the violinist and violist Prudence Gaffikin (1944). He was passionately interested in music and the improvement of violin tone by utilizing his chemical expertise. He was a noted raconteur of Jewish humor.

[Michael Denman (2nd ed.)]