Sir John Warcup Cornforth

Sir John Warcup Cornforth was born on September 7, 1917 in Sydney, Australia.  Cornforth got worse and worse as he got older. 

Cornforthís teachers encouraged him to choose a career that he could be good at even though he was deaf.  Cornforth studied a lot by himself.  He read books and practiced experiments at home.  He even had his own laboratory at home.

Picture Courtesy of the Nobel

Cornforth and his wife, Rita Harradence

Picture Courtesy of the University of Sydney 

He went to Sydney University.  He graduated with a Bachelor's degree in chemistry.  He also graduated with honors!  He was awarded a scholarship for his doctorate degree in England at Oxford University.  Only two scholarships were given.  He eventually married Rita Harradence.  She was awarded the other scholarship.


He received his doctorate degree in 1941.  After that he worked at the Mill Hill Research Laboratories of Britainís Medical Research Council.  While he worked here he studied steroids.  After that he was the director of the Milstead Laboratory of Chemical Enzymology.  He studied cholesterol there. 

Cornforth in his lab

Photo Courtesy of the University of Sydney

Univeristy of Warwick

Picture Courtesy of the University of Warwick

He was a professor at the University of Warwick for a few years.  He left Warwick to be a professor at the University of Sussex.

Cornforth liked to communicate through writing.  He could read lips, but was not very good at reading strangerís lips.  He never used interpreters or note-takers.  He liked to read and write.  He published hundreds of articles instead of giving lectures.

University of Sussex

Picture Courtesy of the University of Sussex

Nobel Prize Medal

Photo Courtesy of Nobel


Cornforth became a knight in 1977.  He became a Commander of the British Empire.  In 1975 Cornforth won the Nobel Prize. He won this because he studied cholesterol. 


CIBA Medal of the Biochemical Society

Stouffer Prize

Davy Medal of the Royal Society    

Corday-Morgan Medal

Flintoff Medal

Godfrey Copley Medal

Ernest Guenther Award

Prix Roussel Award

Englandís Royal Society fellow

National Academy of Sciences foreign associate

Australian Academy of Science member

Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences member


Attention teachers! This scientist has experiment videos available on the wiki. 

Web Links


Lang, H. G., & Meath-Lang, B. (1995). Sir John Warcup Cornforth.  In A Biographical Dictionary: Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences (pp.83-86). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Cornforth, John W. (1975). John Cornforth Autobiography. In Wilhelm Odelberg (Ed.), Les Prix Nobel. Stockholm: The Nobel Foundation.