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Guy Ourisson (1926Ц2006).

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Guy Ourisson (1926–2006)
Guy Ourisson, born on March 26, 1926,
in Boulogne-Billancourt, passed away
on November 3, 2006, in Strasbourg.
After studies at the Ecole Normale
Sup'rieure and the
Agr'gation in physical sciences (1946–
50), he obtained two
doctorate degrees,
both in terpenoid
chemistry, a field
which retained his
interest during his
long career. He
completed the first
of his doctorates in
1952 at Harvard University with L. F.
Fieser on the oxidation of D7-stenols/
oxidative cleavage of tertiary alcohols
and the second one in 1954 at the
Sorbonne in Paris with G. Dupont on
studies on rearrangements and stereochemistry in the longifolene series. In
1955, at the age of 29 years, he was
appointed Professor at the University of
Strasbourg, to which he remained faithful throughout his scientific career. In
1995, he became Emeritus Professor,
but continued to share his knowledge
and experience with enthusiasm until his
Guy Ourisson occupied a special
place among organic chemists. From
the beginning of his career, he embraced
an interdisciplinary approach to his
science. His research focused at the
border between chemistry, biology, and
geology. Starting from the chemistry of
natural products (organic synthesis,
structure determination, reaction mechanisms[1]), he devised new approaches
for the solution of biological problems
(chemotaxonomy,[2] biosynthetic pathways,[3] dermatochemistry,[4] neurochemistry, prebiotic life chemistry[5])
and related geological processes
(organic geochemistry of biomarkers[6]).
He was convinced that the solution to
many problems was only possible by an
interdisciplinary approach. He had a
rich and diverse scientific output, with
more than 400 publications, 25 review
articles, and about 20 essays, among
them many gems: cycloartenol as the
sterol precursor in plants, triterpenoids
of the hopane series as molecular fossils
and biomarkers of an overlooked class
of bacterial lipids, molecular evolution
of biomembranes, and prebiotic chemistry of isoprenoids. In nearly 50 years of
activity, he trained more than 100 PhD
students and welcomed to his laboratory
about 180 postdoctoral researchers and
co-workers of about 40 nationalities,
who subsequently spread the influence
of his school throughout the world.
It is not surprising that his scientific
activity was recognized by many honors
and twenty-five scientific prizes from
French and foreign institutions. He was
doctor honoris causa of the Eidgen>ssische Technische Hochschule in ZArich,
professor honoris causa of the Shanghai
Institute of Organic Chemistry, member
of the Acad'mie des Sciences (France),
Academia Leopoldina (Germany), and
many other academies and societies.
Guy Ourisson displayed an inexhaustible energy. The list of the responsibilities he assumed is too long to be
cited in its entirety. In 1959, he founded
the Groupe dCEtudes de Chimie Organique (GECO) on the model of the
Gordon Conferences. He also established the Fondation Nationale Alfred
Kastler in order to improve the welcome
of foreign researchers to France and was
its president. He was also a regional
editor for Tetrahedron Letters and dealt
with more than 10 000 edited manuscripts. From 1955 until his death, he was
a consultant for many French and foreign companies. In 1971, he was one of
the first founders of the Universit'
Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg and was
also its first president. From 1981 to
1982, he assumed the responsibilities of
Directeur G'n'ral des Enseignements
Sup'rieurs at the Ministry of Education.
From 1985 to 1989, he succeeded Sir
Derek Barton as a director of the
Institut de Chimie des Substances
Naturelles (CNRS, Gif-sur-Yvette).
2006 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
Finally, he was elected vice-president
of the French Acad'mie des Sciences in
1998–1999 and later president from 2000
to 2001.
To be useful to others was a leitmotiv of his whole life. This ensured him
the respect, admiration, and friendship
of all those who met him.
Michel Rohmer
Universit Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg
[1] J. F. Biellmann, G. Ourisson, Bull. Soc.
Chim. Fr. 1960, 348; J. M. Lehn, G.
Ourisson, Bull. Soc. Chim. Fr. 1962,
1137; D. Helmlinger, G. Ourisson, Liebigs
Ann. Chem. 1965, 686, 19; M. Rohmer, G.
Ourisson, Tetrahedron Lett. 1976, 3637; J.
Boivin, E. da Silva, G. Ourisson, S. Zard,
Tetrahedron Lett. 1990, 31, 2501.
[2] G. Ponsinet, G. Ourisson, Phytochemistry
1968, 7, 89; G. Ourisson, M. Rohmer, R.
Anton, Rec. Adv. Phytochem. 1979, 13,
131; M. Rohmer, P. Bouvier-Nav', G.
Ourisson, J. Gen. Microbiol. 1984, 130,
[3] P. Benveniste, L. Hirth, G. Ourisson,
Phytochemistry 1966, 5, 45; M. E. J. Hewlins, J. D. Ehrhardt, L. Hirth, G. Ourisson,
Eur. J. Biochem. 1969, 8, 184; C. Anding,
M. Rohmer, G. Ourisson, J. Am. Chem.
Soc. 1976, 98, 1274.
[4] J. Foussereau, C. Benezra, G. Ourisson,
Transactions St-John*s Hopital Dermatological Soc. 1967, 53, 147.
[5] M. Rohmer, P. Bouvier, G. Ourisson,
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 1979, 76,
847; M. A. Krajewski-Bertrand, M.
Hayer, G. Wolff, A. Milon, A. M.
Albrecht, D. Heissler, Y. Nakatani, G.
Ourisson, Tetrahedron 1990, 46, 3143; G.
Ourisson, Pure Appl. Chem. 1989, 61,
345; G. Ourisson, Y. Nakatani, Chem.
Biol. 1994, 1, 11.
[6] P. Albrecht, G. Ourisson, Angew. Chem.
1971, 83, 221; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.
1971, 10, 209; A. Ensminger, P. Albrecht,
G. Ourisson, B. J. Kimble, J. R. Maxwell,
G. Eglinton, Tetrahedron Lett. 1972, 3861;
A. Ensminger, A. Van Dorsselaer, C.
Spyckerelle, P. Albrecht, G. Ourisson,
Adv. Org. Geochem. 1973, 245; G. Ourisson, P. Albrecht, Acc. Chem. Res. 1992,
25, 399.
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200604727
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2006, 45, 8088
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