Sir John Cadogan CBE HonFREng FRS

John Cadogan was a chemist specialising in the reaction mechanisms of organic compounds, which include nearly all those whose molecules contain carbon. He discovered what is now known as the Cadogan reaction. This important chemical reaction has applications in the manufacture of drugs, dyes and plastics.

In 1979 John joined BP, providing leadership of the company’s research activities. In 1994, he became the first Director General of Research Councils at the then Office of Science and Technology. He was a member of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice, from which followed a change in the law to enable the widespread use of DNA analysis.

John’s many awards included the Meldola Medal, and the Corday Morgan Medal for outstanding early-career achievement. He was the inaugural President of the Learned Society of Wales and was a President of the Royal Society of Chemistry. His keen interest in popularising science resulted, he calculated, in live lecture demonstrations to over 10,000 schoolchildren. He was knighted in 1991.

Sir John Cadogan CBE HonFREng FRS died on 9 February 2020.


  • Philips Lecture

    On 'Research, business and the universities'.

Sir John Cadogan CBE HonFREng FRS
Elected 1976