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Biographical entry Albert, Adrien (1907 - 1989)


19 November 1907
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
29 December 1989
Medical chemist and Pharmacist


Adrien Albert was Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University from 1949 to 1972. Prior to this, Albert was Acting Head of Pharmacy (1938) and lecturer in Organic Chemistry (1939 -1947) at the University of Sydney. During World War II the supply of pharmaceuticals from abroad dwindled so Adrien Albert, in conjunction with the Australian Army Medical Directorship, set up the production of these essential drugs in Australia. He was awarded a Commonwealth Research Scholarship to help fund this work. Almost immediately after the war ended, Albert moved to England to take up the position of Director of Research at the Wellcome Foundation in London. Two years later, Sir Howard Florey lured Adrien Albert back to Australia to work at the newly created John Curtin School of Medical Research.


Soon after completing secondary school, Adrian Albert took up a four year post as apprentice pharmacist with the company Hallam. He quickly realized that his interests lay in pharmaceutical research, not retail pharmacy, and that he would need more formal qualifications. Once his apprenticeship had ended, Albert enrolled in science at the University of Sydney, then worked for two years in a dye firm to fund further studies in England. Even though he experienced several bouts of ill health during his stay in England, Albert completed a PhD on the physical properties of drug actions of antibacterial agents. This work was the forerunner for contemporary drug design.

Albert returned to Australia in 1938, was appointed Acting Head of Pharmacy, then lecturer in Organic Chemistry at the University of Sydney. Over the next 35 years Albert further enhanced his reputation as a first rate chemist and pharmacologist. He locally produced essential drugs for Australia during World War II, worked for the prestigious Wellome Trust Foundation in London and was appointed the inaugural Head of the Medicinal Chemistry Division at the John Curtain School of Medical Research. For the first 9 years the Division was housed at the Wellcome Trust in London, then in July 1956 after the John Curtin School of Medical Research building was finally completed, the Division moved to Canberra. Adrien Albert retired from this post in 1972 but continued to work for the Australian National University (the Research School of Chemistry and the Department of Chemistry) until shortly before his death in 1989.


21 November 1928
Career position - Registered as a pharmacist after a four year apprenticeship with Hallam
c. 1932
Education - Bachelor of Science with Honours (BSc (Hons)) completed at the University of Sydney
Career position - President of the University of Sydney Pharmacy Student's Association
Award - University Medal received from the University of Sydney
1932 - 1934
Career position - Dyer (?) at Hendersons of Rosebery
Life event - Left for England
Education - Doctor of Philosophy (PhD Med) completed at the University of London
Career position - Acting Head of the Pharmacy Department at the University of Sydney
1939 - 1947
Career position - Lecturer in Organic Chemistry at the University of Sydney
Education - Doctor of Science (DSc) received from the University of London
1947 - 1948
Career position - Research Fellow of the Wellcome Foundation in London
1949 - 1972
Career position - Professor of Medical Chemistry at John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University, Canberra
1958 -
Career position - Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA)
Career position - Archibald Liversidge Medal, Royal Society of New South Wales
26 January 1989
Award - Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)

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Archival resources

Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science

  • Adrien Albert - Records, 1923 - 1990, MS 177; Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science. Details

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Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions

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Adrien Albert


McCarthy, G.J & Annette Alafaci