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
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