Robert Runnels Williams, Jr. (1886 - 1965)

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About Robert Runnels Williams, Jr.

Robert Runnels Williams (February 16, 1886 - October 2, 1965) was an American chemist, known for being the first to synthesize thiamine (vitamin B1). He first isolated thiamine in 1933, and synthesized vitamin B in 1935. Among his awards were the Elliott Cresson Medal in 1940 and the Perkin Medal in 1947.


He was born in Nellore, India to Baptist missionaries. He did not return to the United States until he was ten. He got a master's degree at the University of Chicago in 1908. He then spent some time teaching in the Philippines. After returning to the United States, he worked for Bell Telephone Laboratories from 1915, until he retired in 1945.

A resident of Summit, New Jersey, Williams died there at the age of 79 on October 2, 1965.


1934 - developed a way of isolating 1/3 an ounce of thiamine from ton of rice polishings.

1936 - Worked out it's molecular structure

Synthesized thiamine (vitamin B1)

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Robert R. Williams's Timeline

February 16, 1886
October 2, 1965
Age 79