1919-2001

Donald James Cram

Location: Fifth Floor, East Wing, South Wall, Sequence 5

Source: Professor Cram

Sponsor: George M. Love


Professor Cram's early research was in physical organic chemistry, where his notable contributions included the structure and intermediacy of phenonium ions in solvolysis reactions, the stereochemistry of carbanions (in 1965 he wrote a monograph "Fundamentals of Carbanion Chemistry), and the stereochemistry of carbonyl addition reactions (Cram's Rule). But it was for his work on chiral crown ethers and the synthesis of multiheteromacrocycles with cavities shaped to complex selected species that he shared (with J-M. Lehn and C. J. Pedersen) the 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Cram called this area "host-guest" chemistry. He synthesized new classes of macrocycles with such descriptive names as spherands, hemispherands and carcerands, some of which show enzyme-like ability not only to select between enantiomers, but to enhance reaction rates.

Cram was born in Vermont and, after a B.S. at Rollins College (FL), an M.S. at the U. of Nebraska and three years at Merck & Co., took the Ph.D. at Harvard with Fieser (see portrait). From 1947 he was on the faculty at UCLA. Cram's many honors beside the Nobel include ACS awards for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry (1965), the A. C. Cope Award (1974), the Roger Adams Medal (1985) and the National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences (1992). Cram is an outstanding teacher and co-authored (with G. S. Hammond) a widely used undergraduate organic textbook.