Requiem for a Heavyweight
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Cram realized that if nature could do this, so could scientists, once they learned the fundamental chemistry involved. To help them, he churned out more than 400 papers and seven books. Soon the door swung open to artificially creating and manipulating big molecules -- Cram himself invented more than 1,000 of them.
Wrote colleague and friend J. Fraser Stoddart, the Saul Winstein Professor of Chemistry, a chair Cram held from 1985-1997, in London's Independent newspaper: "Donald Cram was to chemistry what Mozart was to music and Picasso to painting. Like these two giants of different art forms, Donald Cram was a visionary."
For the past 25 years, the new science of structural biology -- heavily based on Cram's discoveries -- has virtually dictated all progress in the design and synthesis of new and better drugs.
In an interview following his receipt of the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1987, an honor he shared with American Charles J. Pedersen and Jean-Marie Lehn of France, Cram was asked about his own keys for unlocking a dynamic career. "I'm not all that bright," he confided. "Mainly, I'm creative, and I'm also single-minded. If I become interested in something, I stick to it."
For students with ambition, he offered this advice: "Be single-minded. Love what you are doing and make it the centerpiece of your life."
Perhaps Donald Cram did take Grandpa Vanderhof's words to heart, for he indeed carried within himself a revolution.