In Memoriam: Gilbert Stork, 1921-2017

With great sadness, we pass along the news that Gilbert Stork passed away Saturday, October 21, 2017. Gilbert was a titanic figure in organic chemistry, and the winner of the Wolf Prize as well as the National Medal of Science. His arrival at Columbia in 1953 sparked the growth of the department into a world leader in the field of organic chemistry.

Gilbert published his last paper in the field — “Synthetic Study toward the Total Synthesis of (±)-Germine: Synthesis of (±)-4-Methylenegermine” — in Organic Letters on September 6, 2017. According to Clark Still, “Work on the synthesis of germine began in 1979 and 15 students worked on the project through the year 2000. In 2010, Gilbert and his wife, Ayako Yamashita, decided that finishing the synthesis of germine would be a good retirement project. Working side-by-side (but only half time) in a small laboratory at Columbia, the two of them completed the synthesis of (±)-4-methylenegermine as a labor of love – a gift to each other and to all of Professor Stork’s students.”

Gilbert Stork will be sorely missed. Inquiries about events in honor of Professor Stork should be directed to Alison Doyle (

Columbia University Department of Chemistry

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