- Cram, Donald James
▪ 2002American chemist (b. April 22, 1919, Chester, Vt.—d. June 17, 2001, Palm Desert, Calif.), was awarded the 1987 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his development of ways to build molecules that could mimic the functioning of molecules in living organisms; he shared the prize with Charles J. Pedersen and Jean-Marie Lehn. After earning his bachelor's degree from Rollins College, Winter Park, Fla., and his master's degree from the University of Nebraska, Cram received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Harvard University in 1947. That same year he joined the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles. He was appointed a full professor at UCLA in 1956 and became professor emeritus in 1997. Working independently from Pedersen and Lehn, Cram helped pioneer the field of host-guest chemistry. He synthesized an array of large organic molecules that—because of their differently shaped three-dimensional structures—could interact selectively with other, smaller molecules in a process analogous to the interactions between enzymes and other biological molecules. Molecules of the type developed by Cram were later widely used in sensors and electrodes. Cram was a renowned teacher and a prolific author. He published more than 400 research papers and seven books, including Organic Chemistry (1959, with George Hammond), which became a standard college textbook.
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