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Antonio González González

Prince of Asturias Award for Technical & Scientific Research 1986

Antonio González González (Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 1917 - 2002) graduated in Chemical Sciences from the University of La Laguna and earned a special award for his PhD dissertation, which he defended in Madrid. In 1946, he was awarded the Chair in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of La Laguna. A year later, he began his research on bioactive natural products obtained during the first years of plant life in the Canaries. He subsequently broadened the scope of his research into tropical plants with high bioactivity (Mexico, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Colombia, Panama, etc.).

In 1949, the Spanish National Council for Research (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas - CSIC) created an organic chemistry section at the University of La Laguna and Antonio González was appointed as director. He worked for the next two years with Professor Sir Alexander Todd in the Organic Chemistry Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. Upon his return to La Laguna, he was appointed Dean of the Science Faculty, a position he was to occupy until 1957. In 1963, he founded the Institute for Chemical Research with the backing of the Island Council of Tenerife. The centre was subsequently renamed the Institute of Natural Organic Products (Spanish acronym, IPNO) and is now called the Antonio González University Institute of Bio-organics (Spanish acronym, IUBO-AG), in keeping with the evolution of the research carried out there. That same year he was appointed rector of the University of La Laguna, a position he was to hold until 1968. In 1971, he was awarded the First Chemistry Programme of the Juan March Foundation.

He made important discoveries in the field of Bioorganic Chemistry, opening up new lines of research for other scientists. His work on the determination of the structures of new bioactive natural organic products isolated from marine plants and organisms is especially noteworthy. His publications on biogenetic stereoselective synthesis were also widely recognized. Antonio González’s scientific production was both intense and highly disseminated. He published some 700 articles with the results of his research on the structural determination and synthesis of natural products, mainly in American, English and German scientific journals. He supervised or participated in the supervision of around 130 PhD dissertations and published five books on different subjects, in addition to various chapters in scientific books.

He was a full member of the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical, Chemical and Natural and held an honorary doctorate from the University of Chile and honorary lectureships at the San Marcos University in Peru and the National University of Asunción (Paraguay). Among other honours, he received both the Commendation with Plaque and the Grand Cross of Alfonso X “the Wise”, the Grand Cross of Civil Merit, the Order of Bernardo O’Higgins in the rank of Grand Officer, awarded by the President of the Republic of Chile, and the gold medals of the Royal Spanish Society of Physics and Chemistry (1968), the City Council of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the University of La Laguna, the Island Council of Tenerife and the International Biographical Centre, Cambridge. The University of La Laguna honoured him with the title of Honorary Rector in 1976. In 1986, he received the First Canaries Research Prize created by the Autonomous Government of the Canary Islands.

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