The contribution of professor Paul Karrer (1889–1971) to dextrins

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Paul Karrer (1889–1971), a Swiss organic chemist best known for his research on vitamins, has published more than 1000 articles. In 1919, Karrer became professor of chemistry at the University of Zurich and in the same year he was appointed director of the Chemical Institute in Zurich, where he remained until his retirement in 1959. Karrer’s most famous work was on vitamins, and probably his most important contribution was his demonstration in 1931 that vitamin A was structurally related to carotenoid. Karrer also published important works on natural products, carotenoids and other plant pigments, coenzymes, alkaloids, amino acids, sugars, carbohydrates, polysaccharides, and organometallic compounds. Professor Karrer was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1937 for his research into the constitution of carotenoids, flavins and vitamins A and B2, a prize shared with the British chemist Sir Walter Norman Haworth. However, few researchers working in the field of cyclodextrins know that Karrer was also one of the first to take an interest in these molecules. Between 1920 and 1925, he published several studies on the nomenclature, structure and chemistry of dextrin-α and dextrin-β. This historical review, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his death, aims, on the one hand, to retrace his immense scientific career highlighting selected works on vitamins and alkaloids and, on the other hand, to commemorate his contribution to (cyclo)dextrin chemistry.

Crini, G. The contribution of professor Paul Karrer (1889–1971) to dextrins. J Incl Phenom Macrocycl Chem 99, 155–167 (2021).


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