This site is no longer being updated. The Vega Science Trust closed in March 2012, and this site has been left here for reference purposes.

John `Kappa` Cornforth was born in Australia, and has been profoundly deaf since his teens. He moved into the field of organic chemistry at Sydney University where he met his wife Rita. Together they moved to Oxford and had a profound influence on the work on penicillin during the war. In 1975 he received the Nobel prize for chemistry for his work on the stereochemistry of enzyme-catalyzed reactions.





He is a member of the Royal Society and is still very active in chemistry research at Sussex University. This section from longer archive recordings shows his warmth and personality, and gives an insight into an amazing man who has overcome deafness to pursue a brilliant career in science.

Due to his deafness Kappa can sometimes be a little difficult to understand, but your patience will be rewarded with what he has to say! There is a full text transcript available (

if you click this after the video has started it will be possible to view the transcript at the same time as the video)

.  This interview was recorded in 2002.

Sir John Cornforth has also recorded one of the Vega "Reflections on Science" series, How to be Right and Wrong, discussing the trials and tribulations of early steroid chemistry research.


Links To Other Information:

1975 Nobel Prize Details
Includes Biography

Scientists as Citizens
Article written by Sir John Cornforth on Science and Society 

How To Be Right And Wrong
John also appears in this Vega "Reflection on Science" programme

Sir John `Kappa` Cornforth

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