Koji Nakanishi (1925 – 2019)

Koji Nakanishi (1925 – 2019)

Author: ChemViews Magazine

Koji Nakanishi from the Columbia University, New York, USA, passed away on March 28, 2019. Professor Nakanishi’s research covered bioorganic chemistry and natural products. He isolated more than 200 previously unknown natural substances and investigated their biological effects. He was a pioneer in the use of spectrometric and chemical methods for structure elucidation. He investigated substances of the ginkgo tree (including ginkgolides and bilobalide) for the first time.


Koji Nakanishi (中西 香爾), born in Hong Kong on May 11, 1925, received his bachelor’s degree in organic chemistry from Nagoya University, Japan, in 1947. He did two years of post-graduate work at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA, gained his Ph.D. from Nagoya University in 1954, became assistant professor there, and then professor of chemistry at Tokyo University of Education (now the University of Tsukuba), Japan.

In 1963, he became professor at Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan. Since 1969, he is professor at Columbia University. In 1980, Koji Nakanishi became Centennial Professor there and was Director of the Department of Chemistry from 1987 to 1990. Among many positions, he was a founding member of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Kenya, and Director of the Suntory Institute for Bioorganic Research from 1978 to 1991.

Koji Nakanishi has been honored with numerous awards, including the ACS Cope Award in 1990, the National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences in 1994. In 1996, the “Nakanishi Prize” has been established jointly by the ACS and the Japan Chemical Society. He was Editor-in-Chief of The Chemical Record from 2003 to 2009.

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