Nobel Prize in Chemistry Recipient. Victor Grignard received world-wide notoriety after being awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1912 for, according to the Nobel Prize Committee, "the discovery of the so-called Grignard reagent, which in recent years has greatly advanced the progress of organic chemistry." He jointly shared the Nobel Prize with Paul Sabatier. The son of a sail maker, he first studied mathematics after accepting a scholarship to a local teacher's college in Cluny. However, due to a conflict over educational styles, his school was dissolved, yet he was allowed to transfer to the University of Lyon, where he at first failed his mathematics exams. At this point, he joined the army to meet his service obligation, returning to Lyon in 1894. He earned his Licentiate Degree in Mathematical Science and then began his study in chemistry, earning the same degree, this time in Physical Science. He became a member of the faculty and began his long-time collaboration working under Dr. Philippe Barbier, which led to him earning his Ph.D. From University of Lyon in 1901. It was his doctoral thesis that first introduced the idea of what would be later called Grignard Reagents. These are organomagnesium compounds, RMgX, where R is an organic group and X is a halide, formed from the reaction of an alkyl or aryl halide and magnesium in ether. This reagent then may be used in the Grignard reaction with an aldehyde or ketone to create a more complex organic molecule. He was appointed to Full Professor at Lyon in 1908 and then became the head of the Organic Chemistry Department at the University of Nancy in 1909. When World War I began, he was enlisted as a corporal in the French Army but was assigned to continue his work at the University of Nancy where he also was involved in the French chemical warfare effort. In 1919, he returned to the University of Lyon as Professor of General Chemistry and became the Dean of the Faculty of Science in 1929. Besides the Nobel Prize, he was awarded the Cahors Prize in 1901 and 1902, the Berthelot Medal in 1902, and the Lavosier Medal in 1912. He was a Commander of the Legion of Honor and received a number of honorary doctorates from European universities and was an honorary Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science and the Chemical Society in London. His major writings included over 170 scientific papers and the book "Treatise on Organic Chemistry". His son Roger and his student Jean Cologne also published the book "A Survey of Organic Chemistry" in 1937, based on his lecture notes.
Bio by: Kenneth Gilbert