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Herchel Smith

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Herchel Smith

Herchel Smith
Born (1925-05-06)May 6, 1925
Plymouth, UK
Died December 20, 2001(2001-12-20) (aged 76)
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Citizenship British/American
Nationality British
Institutions University of Oxford
University of Manchester
Alma mater Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Doctoral advisor Alexander Robertus Todd
Known for Oral birth-control pill

Herchel Smith (1925–2001) was an Anglo-American contraceptives. In later life, he was a major benefactor to university science. In England, Cambridge University, Emmanuel College, Cambridge and Queen Mary, University of London have been the major beneficiaries; and in the US, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and Williams College. During his lifetime and after his death, Smith donated over $200 million to Cambridge and $100 million to Harvard, including endowments to expand student exchange between the two universities through fellowships.

His early education in Plymouth and Exeter (in the South West of England) led him in 1942 to Lord Todd.

His independent research started in University of Manchester.

In 1961, a three-month visit to the research laboratories of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Pennsylvania, evolved into a permanent position where he continued to research steroid chemistry.

Herchel Smith’s work on new methods for the total synthesis of Wyeth and Schering AG of Germany, who are still leaders in contraceptives.

He retired in 1973 and started a new career as a philanthropist in which he returned to the academic community the major part of the substantial fortune that had accrued from his patent and licensing fees.

Smith's interests outside research and chemistry were varied. He was a discerning art collector. During a period in the mid-1970s he purchased the Kimberly Diamond, one of the largest yellow diamonds ever to be found in South Africa. Also he designed his own ocean-going yacht, Synthesis. Finally, he also initialled his precious metals portfolio, particularly in platinum.

External links

  • Details of Cambridge endowment
  • Harvard article
  • Biography from a Cambridge lab
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