Prof. Edward C. Taylor was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on August 3, 1923. He received both his B.A. (1946) and his Ph.D. (1949) degrees from Cornell University. He was a Merck Postdoctoral Fellow (1949-50) of the National Academy of Sciences in Zürich, Switzerland, where he studied with Leopold Ruzicka, and then the du Pont Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois (1950-51). He joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in 1951, and then moved to Princeton University in 1954. In 1966 he was appointed A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Organic Chemistry, a position he held until July, 1997, when he was appointed A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Organic Chemistry Emeritus and Senior Research Chemist at Princeton. He served as Chairman of the department from 1973 until 1979. He was awarded the degree of Hon. D.Sc. from Hamilton College in 1968, the Distinguished Hamilton Award in 1978, and the Hamilton Distinguished Alumni Award in the fall of 1990. He received an honorary D. Sc. degree from Princeton University in 2010.
Taylor was an NSF Senior Faculty Fellow at Harvard University, Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Buffalo; Visiting Professor at the Technische Hochschule, Stuttgart, the University of East Anglia, Norwich, the University of Freiburg, and the Weizmann Institute; and Backer Lecturer at the University of Groningen. He is a former member of the Chemistry Advisory Committee of the Cancer Chemotherapy National Service Center, of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and of the Board of Editors of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and the Journal of Organic Chemistry; he is currently a member of the Board of Editors of Synthetic Communications, Heterocycles, Pteridines, and Advances in Heterocyclic Chemistry. He served as Chairman of the Organic Division of the American Chemical Society in 1976-77, and is currently Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board, Privileged Discovery Partners, PDP.
Other honors include Fulbright, Guggenheim and Alexander von Humboldt awards, the 1974 American Chemical Society Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry (for his work in organothallium, heterocyclic, pteridine and folate chemistry), the 5th International Award in Heterocyclic Chemistry, the Gowland Hopkins Medal in 1993, and the 1994 Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society. He was the recipient of the 2004 Thomas Alva Edison Award for Invention for his patent on the compound that became Alimta, a new and broadly effective anticancer drug developed and marketed by Eli Lilly and Co, and was selected for the 2006 Heroes of Chemistry Award, together with two scientists from Eli Lilly and Co., and again by the American Chemical Society, for his work on the discovery and development of Alimta “that has led to the welfare and progress of humanity”. By end of 2010, Alimta stood as the most successful new cancer drug, based on sales, in the history of the pharmaceutical industry. He was inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame in 2009, received from the American Chemical Society the Alfred Burger Award in Medicinal Chemistry in March, 2010, and was inducted into the Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame of the ACS in 2011.
For the past fifty-five years Taylor has been consultant for the research divisions of a number of pharmaceutical and chemical companies. He also serves as editorial advisor in the field of organic chemistry to John Wiley & Sons. He is a member of the ACS, The Royal Society of Chemistry, the German Chemical Society, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Xi, and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemists, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the AAAS.
In 1968 he joined Dr. Arnold Weissberger as co-editor of the Wiley-Interscience series The Chemistry of Heterocyclic Compounds (Taylor was the sole editor since Dr. Weissberger's death in 1984; Professor Peter Wipf joined him as coeditor in 1998), and of the series General Heterocyclic Chemistry. Thus far 79 volumes have been published under his editorship. He has produced a 24-hour Film Course on Principles of Heterocyclic Chemistry, and a companion Audio Course, both distributed by the American Chemical Society; these were followed by an extensive lecture course aimed at industrial research laboratories on Utilization of Heterocycles in Organic Synthesis. He is also the editor of Advances in Organic Chemistry (9 volumes to date) and was co-editor with Pfleiderer of Pteridine Chemistry (1964), co-author (with Alexander McKillop) of The Chemistry of Enaminonitriles and o-Aminonitriles (1970), and author of two books on Principles of Heterocyclic Chemistry.
Prof. Taylor is the author of over 450 scientific papers and 52 U.S. patents on heterocyclic chemistry, organothallium chemistry, natural product chemistry, medicinal chemistry and synthetic methodology.