Vladimir Prelog – the Man
Born in 1906, Vladimir worked and lived in Zurich, Zagreb and Prague. He won the chemistry Nobel Prize in 1975. As a renowned organic chemist, Vladimir worked as a lecturer in the University of Zagreb. He received high accolades for his scientific work that was published in journals and top rated European chemical literature magazines. Unfortunately, this renowned scientist died in 1988.
Born to Croatian parents, Vladimir got his academic interest from his father who was a history professor. Vladimir had a great passion for education, which contributed largely to his impressive career. After the Second World War broke in 1941, Vladimir was invited by Richard Kuhn to lecture in Germany. In 1944, he separated the Togers base chiralenantiomers using chromatography of a substrate that was optically active. Using the thischiral resolution, he proved that both nitrogen and carbon can form the chiral center within a molecule, which was under speculation for many years. He maintained a strong relationship with Ružička that greatly assisted him in climbing the academic hierarchy.
Vladimir’s main interest in his career was on alkaloids. He found the ideal subject on the solanin structure elucidation. He continued to research on alkaloids and concentrated on investigating the strychnine. He opposed Robert Robinson’s strychnine formula, though, he also proposed a wrong formula. This discovery added to his international pride. He performed a research on stereochemistry of organic reactions and molecules that earned him the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1975. It is worth noting that he has a scientific portfolio of well over four hundred works.
It is important to point out that at sixteen years; Vladimir came up with a new analytical instrument solution. This was his first published description in a top German magazine. By 1924, he had finished his High school education after which he moved to Prague to study a diploma in chemical engineering. Upon completion of his diploma, he worked in a private laboratory.
Vladimir Prelog‘s Private Life
Vladimir married Kamila Vitak in 1933 and they were blessed with a son in 1949. He was a strong Swiss patriot and considered himself a citizen of the world. He was a humble and polished man who hated confrontation. Vladimir was always suspicious of political, religious and social aspirations. He was an extremely private person who hardly let anyone in on his inner life. He acquired Swiss citizenship in 1959. In 1991, he was among the Nobel Prize winners who signed the Croatian peace appeal. At the age of ninety one year, this great scientist died in Zurich. In 2001, his ashes were interred in Zagreb at the Mirogoj cemetery. A memorial service for this great man was held in Prague in 2008.
Vladimir Prelog made a significant contribution to world of chemistry. He was passionate about his work and maintained high ethical standard during his career. As a man of integrity, Vladimir gained international recognition and can be fondly remembered for his passion and role in coming up with different chemistry related findings that have been utilized today. Many researchers and scientists today are striving to match the high performing record of Vladimir Prelog.