Curriculum vitae of Professor Dr. W. Th. Nauta
Wijbe Thomas Nauta was born on June 17th 1913 in Westdongeradeel in Friesland, the Netherlands. His academic studies were taken at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam from 1931 on. The dissertation research was carried out under the organic chemist prof. J. Coops and concerned Diarylmethylenes. The grade of Ph.D. was obtained with the judicium ‘cum laude’ (1939).
After a short period (1943-1945) as an employee of Philips-Eindhoven in one of the research laboratories at Amsterdam, Nauta began his activities at Brocades-Stheeman and Pharmacia, a Dutch pharmaceutical house, when this company started its research efforts immediately after the war was ended. Summer 1948 he combined his research leadership with a managing function in the newly started chemical plant of Brocades, a function that continued until the end of 1952.
Nauta was also responsible for research activities of ‘Brocades’ which had started under rather difficult circumstances. There was no history in research and no facilities. The chemical research was concentrated in a part of the chemical labs of the Vrije Universiteit, and the pharmacological work carried out within the facilities of the university of Utrecht (prof. U.G. Bijlsma). In this period, which lasted until the opening of the research facilities of Brocades in Haarlem a number of successful drugs, which are still in use, have been developed, e.g. cyclandelate and orphenadrine. His Royal Highness Prins Bernard inaugurated the research labs in Haarlem in 1953. These facilities were for their time very modern and well equipped; Nauta has always been stressing that for success inspiration only is just not enough.
Already in 1946 Nauta was appointed assistant professor in Organic Chemistry. Nauta then continued his work in Organic Chemistry, concentrating on chemistry of radicals. A number of about 20 papers, mainly in the field of diarylmethanes appeared in this field and two Ph.D. degrees were based on this work.
The scientific activities of professor Nauta are mirrored in a large number of papers. From purely organic chemistry the program switched to the new sub discipline of pharmacochemistry. This holds also true for the ~30 Ph.D. dissertations.
In the field of medicinal chemistry Nauta has been working on a number of subjects. His group has been very active with regard to the H1 antihistaminics, especially in the class of diphenhydramine analogues; a clear picture of the QSAR of this group of compounds has been the result of the work of Nauta and not to be forgotten his colleague Rekker.
Another series of interesting molecules Nauta has been working with are the 2-arylphenylindandiones; starting to investigate these compounds as anticoagulants, the studies have been directed to anti-inflammatory and biocidal activities later on. The results show that by choosing the right substituents selectivity can be obtained. In the seventies Nauta became involved with chemotherapeutic agents, when in the class of substituted isoquinolines a Cu dependent antimicrobial activity was detected. As for Nauta usual, he started to investigate the activity of these compounds very much interdisciplinary, finding a number of very interesting results, especially on the role of Cu.
Next to his involvements in industry and university in the Netherlands professor Nauta played and plays an important role in the international chemical societies.
Nauta retired in 1982, to be succeeded by one of his former students, Henk Timmerman. In 1986 he died suddenly. From means received from his widow the Prof. Dr. W. Th Nauta Stichting was founded; this foundation enabled the EFMC to award the bi-annual W. Th. Nauta prize, presented for the first time in 1992.