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Westheimer, Frank Henry

WESTHEIMER, FRANK HENRY (1912– ), U.S. organic chemist. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and educated at Dartmouth College and Harvard University, where he received his M.A. and Ph.D. He was National Research Fellow at Columbia University (1935–36) before joining the department of chemistry at the University of Chicago (1936–1954) where he became professor (1948). During this period he supervised the National Development Research Council's Explosives Research Laboratory (1944–45). He was Morris Loeb Professor of Chemistry at Harvard (1954–83) after which he became professor emeritus. Westheimer was among the first chemists to apply physical techniques to analyzing biochemical reactions, and he made outstanding contributions to understanding the molecular mechanics of reactions involving phosphate esters, biphenyls, and beta-keto acids. He was a renowned teacher with a great interest in chemistry education; the Westheimer Report (1965) was the first to assess its relevance to U.S. public affairs. His many honors include the Cope Award (1982), the National Medal of Science (1986), the Priestley Medal (1988), and the Willard Gibbs Medal (2003). He was a foreign member of the Royal Society of London and was a member of the President's Science Advisory Committee (1967–70).