John Cadogan

Sir John Ivan George Cadogan CBE FIC FRS FRSE FRSC (8 October 1930 – 9 February 2020) was a British organic chemist.[1]

Sir John Cadogan
John Ivan George Cadogan

(1930-10-08)8 October 1930
Died9 February 2020(2020-02-09) (aged 89)
Alma materKing's College London
OccupationScientist, chemist

Early lifeEdit

Cadogan was born in Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, Wales, United Kingdom. He was educated at Swansea Grammar School, where he achieved State Scholar in 1948, and at King's College London, where he earned a 1st Class Honours degree as well as a PhD, and was awarded the Millar Thomson Medal, and the Samuel Smiles Prize.[2]



After his National Service years as a senior research fellow at the Chemical Defence Establishment Porton Down, he returned to King's College as a lecturer in Chemistry. At age 32, he became Purdie Professor of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews and, six years later, became Forbes Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh.

British PetroleumEdit

In 1979, Cadogan joined the former British Petroleum Company as Chief Scientist, BP Research Centre. He became its first worldwide Director of Research in 1981 and held the post until 1992. During his time at BP, he oversaw the growth in research from $60 million to $450 million. Long before global warming/CO2 attained its current high profile, Cadogan initiated a $50 million programme devoted to green issues, reducing BP's huge energy usage in its production processes, including championship and chair of BP's solar photovoltaic sector. He also served as a Director of BP Chemicals International, BP Gas International, BP Venezuela; Chairman of BP Solar International, Kaldair International, BP Advanced Composites, BP Vencap; and chief executive of BP Ventures and the BP Innovation Centre.

Throughout his time at BP he maintained, with generous BP support, an independent research group in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. The most recent publication from this team was in 2010. Parts of his research are about organic reaction mechanisms, short contact time reactions, reactive intermediates (free radicals, nitrenes and arynes), organophosphorus chemistry, and heterocyclic synthesis.


Cadogan was particularly interested in the popularisation of science. He calculated that he has given live lecture demonstrations to over 10,000 school children and to many more via television. He took part in the first live satellite telecast from London to New Zealand, at which time he treasured the sight of more TV vans outside the Royal Institution than even outside the Arms Park for a Wales-England match. He was a Liveryman of the Salters' Company and a director of the Salters' Institute whose considerable charitable works are dedicated to the improvement of teaching of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. He was a Freeman of the City of London.[1]

Positions and membershipsEdit

He was a member of the Higher Education Funding Councils for England and was the UK Member of the Board of Governors of the European Union Joint Research Centre 1993–2000. He was also a member of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice (1991–1993) and led on scientific issues. A major change in the law enabling widespread, as opposed to very limited, use of DNA analysis ensued and was seen as the most important step forward in crime detection since the introduction of fingerprinting.

Cadogan served as Vice-President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the Royal Institution and has twice been a member of the Council of the Royal Society. He was Chairman of the Science Research Council's Chemistry Committee, a member of the Science and Engineering Research Council, and Chairman of its Science Board. He was a founding member of the Higher Education Council for Wales and was Chairman of its Research Committee. He was a Past-President of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He chaired the Defence Scientific Advisory Council for eight years and subsequently chaired the Defence Nuclear Safety Committee, also for eight years. He was a member of the Board of the Royal College of Defence Studies and the Council of the Royal College of Military Science.

From 1979 to 2002, he was Visiting Professor of Chemistry at Imperial College, London, and from 1979 to 2007, he was Honorary Professorial Fellow in Chemistry at the University of Wales, Swansea. He was Science Policy Advisor to the Science Foundation, Ireland, from its inception until 2006.[2]

He was the first Director General of Research Councils at the Office of Science and Technology from 1 January 1994 to 31 December 1998. His budget in 1998 was £1.33 billion. He was the official responsible for making the case for Science receiving the largest percentage increase among all government departments in the first comprehensive Spending Review for 1999–2001. This set the precedent for subsequent years.

Cadogan was the Inaugural President of the Learned Society of Wales and was previously chairman of Fusion Antibodies Ltd, a company spun out from Queen’s University, Belfast, and remains a Board member. Until October 2004, he was a founding investor and Chairman of DNA Research Innovations Ltd when it was acquired by the Invitrogen Corporation.


Cadogan was awarded Honorary Doctorates at the Universities of St Andrews, Edinburgh, Stirling, Aberdeen, Wales, Aix-Marseille, Cranfield, Durham, Glamorgan, Leicester, London, Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, Sunderland, and Wales and Honorary Fellowships from University of Swansea; University of Cardiff; King's College, London; Imperial College, London; and the Swansea Metropolitan University. He was also an Honorary Fellow[3] of the Royal Academy of Engineering[3] (FREng) and of the Royal Society of Chemistry. The latter is awarded to regular Fellows of the Society only in exceptional circumstances; there has been only one other such award.

In 1976, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh having been created a Commander of The Order of the British Empire in 1985. He received a Knighthood in January 1991. The Royal Society of Chemistry in 2010 awarded him the Lord Lewis Prize "[i]n recognition of his distinguished research in organic chemistry and his wide ranging, distinctive and significant contributions in industry and public service."

In research

Cadogan was awarded the Corday Morgan Medal as well as the Prize of the Chemical Society, which is awarded to a British chemist under the age of 36 having published the most distinguished research in experimental chemistry. He was also a recipient of the Meldola Medal from the Royal Institute of Chemistry, which is awarded to the most promising British chemist under the age of 30. While in Scotland, he received the Tilden and Pedler Lectureships of the Royal Society of Chemistry. In 2001, he received the Society of Chemical Industry’s Medal for "conspicuous services to applied chemistry by research, discovery and invention." Among other scientific advances, Cadogan discovered a general synthetic chemical reaction now widely used and known as the Cadogan Reaction.

In 2013, Cadogan was awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society of Edinburgh by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, for his "outstanding contribution to Organic Chemistry through his research, discovery and invention, and the impact for wider academia of his work with the UK Research Councils and industry." [4]


  1. ^ a b Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knighthood (107 ed.). Burke's Peerage & Gentry. p. 638. ISBN 0-9711966-2-1.
  2. ^ a b Who's Who 2008, p.354
  3. ^ a b "List of Fellows - Royal Academy of Engineering".
  4. ^