Joseph Bienaimé Caventou

Joseph Bienaimé Caventou (French pronunciation: [ʒozɛf bjɛ̃nɛme kavɑ̃tu]; 30 June 1795 – 5 May 1877) was a French pharmacist. He was a professor at the École de Pharmacie (School of Pharmacy) in Paris. He collaborated with Pierre-Joseph Pelletier in a Parisian laboratory located behind an apothecary. He was a pioneer in the use of mild solvents to isolate a number of active ingredients from plants, making a study of alkaloids from vegetables. Among their successes were the isolation of the following compounds:

Joseph Bienaimé Caventou
Born(1795-06-30)30 June 1795
Died5 May 1877(1877-05-05) (aged 81)
Alma materEcole de Pharmacie de Paris
Known forIsolating alkaloids from vegetables
AwardsElected to the Académie Nationale de Médecine in 1821
Scientific career
FieldsPharmacology, chemistry
Year Isolated compound(s) Source
1817 Chlorophyll  
1817 Emetine Ipecacuanha
1818 Strychnine Nux vomica
1819 Brucine Nux vomica
1820 Cinchonine and quinine Cinchona bark
1821 Caffeine  

Quinine sulfate later proved to be an important remedy for the disease malaria. Quinine is the active anti-malarial ingredient in the bark of cinchona tree.[1][2]

Neither of the partners chose to patent their discovery of this compound, releasing it for everybody to use. In 1823 they discovered nitrogen in alkaloid compounds. Other compounds they discovered include colchicine and veratrine.

The crater Caventou on the Moon is named after him.


  1. ^ Haas L (1994). "Pierre Joseph Pelletier (1788–1842) and Jean Bienaime Caventou (1795–1887)". J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 57 (11): 1333. doi:10.1136/jnnp.57.11.1333. PMC 1073182. PMID 7964807.
  2. ^ Kyle R, Shampe M (1974). "Discoverers of quinine". JAMA. 229 (4): 462. doi:10.1001/jama.229.4.462. PMID 4600403.

Further reading

  • Delepine, Marcel (1951). "Joseph Pelletier and Joseph Caventou". Journal of Chemical Education. 28 (September): 454–461. doi:10.1021/ed028p454.