Raymond Lemieux

Raymond Urgel Lemieux
Born (1920-06-16)June 16, 1920
Died July 22, 2000(2000-07-22) (aged 80)
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater University of Alberta (B.Sc., Honor)
McGill University (Ph.D.)
Ohio State University (Postdoctoral)
Known for carbohydrate chemistry, the first synthesis of sucrose, anomeric effect, Lemieux-Johnson oxidation
Awards Officer of the Order of Canada (1968), Tishler Award (Harvard University, 1983), NSERC Gold Medal in Science (1991), Albert Einstein World Award of Science (1992), Companion of the Order of Canada (1994), Wolf Prize in Chemistry (1999)
Scientific career
Fields Chemist
Institutions University of Alberta
University of Ottawa
University of Saskatchewan
National Research Council

Raymond Urgel Lemieux, CC, AOE, FRS[1] (June 16, 1920 – July 22, 2000) was a Canadian organic chemist, who pioneered many discoveries in the field of chemistry, his first and most famous being the synthesis of sucrose.[2] His contributions include the discovery of the anomeric effect and the development of general methodologies for the synthesis of saccharides still employed in the area of carbohydrate chemistry.[3] He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Society (England), and a recipient of the prestigious Albert Einstein World Award of Science and Wolf Prize in Chemistry.

Life and career

Dr. Raymond U. Lemieux was born in Lac La Biche, Alberta, Canada. His family moved to Edmonton, Alberta in 1926. He studied chemistry at the University of Alberta and received a BSc with Honours in Chemistry in 1943. He went on to study at McGill University, where he received his PhD in Organic Chemistry in 1946. He won a post-doctoral scholarship at Ohio State University, where Bristol Laboratories Inc. sponsored his research on the structure of streptomycin. He met his future wife, a doctoral student, at Ohio State and they were married in 1948.

In following years, he returned to Canada where he spent two years as an assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Next he served as Senior Research Officer at the National Research Council's Prairie Regional Laboratory in Saskatoon. In 1953 he and a fellow researcher, George Huber, were the first scientists to successfully synthesize sucrose. In 1954, he accepted the position of Dean in the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences at the University of Ottawa, where he established their Department of Chemistry. In 1961 he returned to the University of Alberta as a professor in the Chemistry Department and to serve as the Chairman of the Organic Chemistry Division. He developed a method to make synthetic versions of oligosaccharides, which led to improved treatments for leukemia and hemophilia and the development of new antibiotics, blood reagents, and organ anti-rejection drugs.

While at the University of Alberta, he established a number of biochemical companies, including R&L Molecular Research Ltd. in 1962, Raylo Chemicals Ltd. in 1966 (which purchased R&L) and Chembiomed in 1977 (which has since been taken over by Synsorb Biotech of Calgary, Alberta.) Prof. Lemieux published an autobiography, entitled "Explorations with Sugars: How Sweet It Was," in 1990.[4]

Dr. Raymond Lemieux died of an aneurysm in 2000.

In 1999, the University of Alberta Faculty of Science and Strathcona County established the Strathcona County/R.U. Lemieux Chair in Carbohydrate Chemistry. In 2001, the University of Alberta renamed the building(s) housing the Department of Chemistry to the Gunning/Lemieux Chemistry Centre to acknowledge the contributions of Profs. Raymond Lemieux and Harry Gunning.


Dr. R.U. Lemieux received numerous awards and honours for his work in chemistry:

Notable former trainees


Raymond's daughter Janet Lemieux[6] was Canadian champion soccer player and was inducted to the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame in 2021.

See also


  1. ^ Bundle, D. R. (2002). "Raymond Urgel Lemieux. 16 June 1920 - 22 July 2000". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 48: 251–273. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2002.0014.
  2. ^ Lemieux, R. U.; Huber, G. (1953). "A Chemical Synthesis of Sucrose". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 75 (16): 4118. doi:10.1021/ja01112a545.
  3. ^ Hindsgaul, O.; Bundle, D. R. (1996). "Raymond U. Lemieux". Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry. 4 (11): 1795–1797. doi:10.1016/S0968-0896(96)00245-3. PMID 9007264.
  4. ^ Lemieux, Raymond U. (1990). Explorations with sugars: how sweet it was. Columbus, OH: American Chemical Society. ISBN 0-8412-1803-X.
  5. ^ "Albert Einstein World Award of Science 1992". Archived from the original on February 20, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  6. ^ "Janet Lemieux". Retrieved April 29, 2021.

Further reading