Alfred Burger, Ph.D.

 

Alfred Burger was born on September 6, 1905, in Vienna, Austria-Hungary (now Austria), the son of S. L. Burger (a civil servant) and Clariss Burger. After receiving his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Vienna and conducting postdoctoral research in Switzerland in 1928, Burger immigrated to the United States the following year. On August 1, 1936, he married Frances Page Morrison, who eventually bore him one daughter, Frances. In 1937, Burger became a naturalized citizen of the United States.Upon arrival in the United States in 1929, Burger went to work as a research associate at the newly created Drug Addiction Laboratory at the University of Virginia. Throughout his long research career, he remained linked to the University. Burger's work, which focused on laboratory research from 1929-1938, later included teaching. An assistant professor from 1938-1939, Burger was an associate professor from 1939-1952, when he was promoted to full professor, a position he held until 1970, acting as department chair from 1962-1963. In 1970, he was named Professor Emeritus.

Burger's entire career has been devoted to studying chemicals and their medicinal properties. As an expert in organic chemistry he pinpointed the syntheses of morphine substitutes, and also researched and designed numerous drugs, including antimalarials, antituberculous drugs, organic phosphorous compounds, antimetabolites, and psychopharmacological drugs. He also did much to further chemotherapy, acting as a member of the chemistry panel and then as a medical chairman of the Cancer Chemotherapy National Service Center from 1956 through 1964. His most recent work focused on monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors and antidepressant drugs.

In 1958, Burger founded the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, providing a formal communication venue for his discipline. He was editor of the Journal from its inception through 1971. Today, the journal still remains a voice for medicinal chemist from around the globe.

Burger's scientific accomplishments did not go unnoticed by his peers. In 1953, he was awared the Pasteur Medal by the Pasteur Institute in Paris. In 1971, he received an honorary degree from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, as well as an award from the American Pharmacological Society Foundation. In 1977, The American Chemical Society recognized his contribution to medicinal chemistry by giving him the Smissman Award. Burger received his greatest accolade when the American Chemical Society created the Alfred Burger Award in Medicinal Chemistry in his honor.

Burger was a long-time member of the American Chemical Society and the American Pharmacological Society. A prolific writer, he published nine books, as well as about 200 peer-reviewed articles.