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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 91
ROGER JOHN WILLIAMS
August 14, 1893–February 20, 1988
BY DONALD R. DAVIS, MARVIN L. HACKERT, AND LESTER J. REED
ROGER J. WILLIAMS WAS A NOTED organic chemist who became an internationally acclaimed biochemist and a pioneer in the study of vitamins, promoting the importance of nutrition and the concept of biochemical individuality. Roger and his students and collaborators discovered or characterized the B vitamins pantothenic acid, folic acid, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine (forms of vitamin B6), as well as lipoic acid and avidin. They also developed a commercial synthesis of vitamin B12, and did pioneering work on inositol. Roger was the author or coauthor of nearly 300 articles and 21 books. He devoted much of his later years to educating the public about the benefits of complete and proper nutrition to good health, presented in such popular books as Nutrition AgainstDisease, Biochemical Individuality, The Wonderful World WithinYou, and The Prevention of Alcoholism.
Roger received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Redlands in 1914, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago in 1918 and 1919, respectively. After several years at the University of Oregon and Oregon State College, he joined the University of Texas at Austin in 1939. There he founded the Biochemical Institute in 1940 with funding provided by Benjamin Clayton and the Clayton Foundation. He believed that the best approach