Richard Tecwyn Williams

Richard Tecwyn Williams
Born February 20, 1909
Died December 29, 1979(1979-12-29) (aged 70)
Nationality British
Awards Fellow of the Royal Society[1]
Scientific career
Fields Xenobiotic metabolism

Richard Tecwyn Williams FRS[1] (20 February 1909 – 29 December 1979) was a Welsh biochemist who founded the systematic study of xenobiotic metabolism with the publication of his book Detoxication mechanisms in 1947.[1][2][3][4] This seminal book built on his earlier work on the role of glucuronic acid in the metabolism of borneol.[5][6]

He was born in Abertillery, Wales in 1909 and educated at the Gelli Crug Junior School and Secondary School, Abertillery. He then went on to University College, Cardiff to study chemistry and physiology and was awarded his B.Sc. degree in 1928. In 1931, he published the structure of glucuronic acid in the leading scientific journal, Nature.[7]

In 1949 he took up the chair of biochemistry at St Mary's Hospital Medical School in London where, in the 1950s, he worked on the metabolism of thalidomide.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in March 1967.[1] His application citation read: "The researches of Williams have been largely responsible for laying the foundations of biochemical toxicology. He has worked on the metabolism of aliphatic alcohols, alicyclic hydrocarbons, benzenes and alkylbenzenes, sulphonamides, drugs of a wide variety, heterocycles, and organotin compounds. He is especially known for his work on fluorescence and his studies on thalidomide in which he has shown that none of the twelve breakdown products which he identified is teratogenic. Williams has also defined the structural factors required for a compound to be excreted through the bile. He has discovered species differences which may have an application in primate classification. His work is of immediate relevance to an understanding of drug metabolism and action and that of the biological effects of food additives, pesticides, and other compounds foreign to the body". [8]

He died of cancer in 1979. He married Josephine Sullivan in 1937; they had five children.


  1. ^ a b c d Neuberger, A.; Smith, R. L. (1982). "Richard Tecwyn Williams. 20 February 1909-29 December 1979". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 28: 685. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1982.0026. JSTOR 769915.
  2. ^ Jones, A. W. (2009). "Letter to the editor: Richard Tecwyn Williams (1909-1979): An Appreciation". Journal of Analytical Toxicology. 33 (9): 623–625. doi:10.1093/jat/33.9.623. PMID 20040139.
  3. ^ Neuberger, A.; Smith, R. L. (1983). "Richard Tecwyn Williams: The Man, His Work, His Impact". Drug Metabolism Reviews. 14 (3): 559–607. doi:10.3109/03602538308991399. PMID 6347595.
  4. ^ Parke, D. V. (1977). "Richard Tecwyn Williams". Xenobiotica. 7 (1–2): 1. doi:10.3109/00498257709036238. PMID 322396.
  5. ^ Pryde J, Williams RT (1936). "The biochemistry and physiology of glucuronic acid: A note on the conjugation of borneol in man". Biochem. J. 30 (5): 799–800. PMC 1263101. PMID 16746091.
  6. ^ Pryde J, Williams RT (2 April 1933). "The biochemistry and physiology of glucuronic acid: The structure of glucuronic acid of animal origin". Biochem. J. 27 (4): 1197–204. PMC 1253009. PMID 16745211.
  7. ^ "THE FOUNDING FATHER OF DRUG METABOLISM Professor R. Tecwyn Williams". Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  8. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 1 November 2010.


  • Williams, R.T., "Detoxication Mechanisms, J.Wiley & Sons, New York, N.Y. (1947)

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