Sir Jack Edward Baldwin (1938 – 2020)

  • Author: ChemViews Magazine
  • Published Date: 10 January 2020
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
thumbnail image: Sir Jack Edward Baldwin (1938 – 2020)

Professor Sir Jack Edward Baldwin, University of Oxford, UK, passed away on January 4, 2020. He is best known for research on biomimetic synthesis and Baldwin's rules for ring closure reactions. These are guidelines describing the relative favorabilities of ring closure reactions in alicyclic compounds.

His research focussed topics including mechanism of reactions and fundamental concepts in organic chemistry, total synthesis of natural products, biosynthetic hypothesis, biomimetic synthesis of natural products, and isopenicillin N-synthase crystal structure


Jack Edward Baldwin, born in London, UK, on 8 August 1938, studied chemistry at Imperial College, London, where he received his Ph.D. in 1964 in organic chemistry under the supervision of Nobel Laureate Sir Derek H. R. Barton. After positions at Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, USA, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA, from 1969 to 1978, he moved to Oxford to become head of the Dyson Perrins Laboratory in 1978. He remained there until his retirement in 2005. Nevertheless, Baldwin remained active with a research group at Oxford University. The research focus was on biomimetic chemistry.

Among many other honors, Jack Edward Baldwin was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1978, received the Paul Karrer Gold Medal of the University of Zurich in 1984, the Leverhulme Medal of the Royal Society  in 1999, the Nakanishi Prize in 2002, and the Paracelsus Prize in 2006. He was awarded a knighthood in 1997.

Selected Publications


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Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies) published by Wiley-VCH