Eugene C. Jorgensen, Pharmaceutical Chemistry: San Francisco

Professor of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Eugene Jorgensen died tragically on February 13, 1981 from bullet wounds that he suffered at the hands of an unknown intruder at his home in San Anselmo. It seems monumentally ironic that such a gentle man should suffer a violent death. Although years have passed, his friends and colleagues remain stunned by the enormity of this sad event.

Eugene Jorgensen was born in Hayward, California on October the 22nd, 1923, finishing his high school education just at the outbreak of the Second World War. His subsequent training at the University of California was interrupted by service in the U.S. Army. He later returned to the Berkeley campus of the University where he earned the bachelor's and master's of science degrees in chemistry. Subsequently he joined the graduate program at UCLA completing his degree in organic chemistry in 1953, working with Professor Geissman on the chemistry of flavenoids.

Eugene's interest in the biological aspects of organic chemistry led him to seek a position at the University of California School of Pharmacy where, in 1953, he joined the faculty of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. He quickly established credentials in the then fledgling area of mechanism of hormone action through his elegant studies on structure activity relationships of compounds related to thyroxin. It was characteristic of Eugene to focus his intellectual energies in such a way as to develop a highly detailed and soundly based scientific structure. His work carried him to a variety of apparently disparate areas which he was able to unify with the patient and insightful analytical skills that he brought to his studies. When the computer graphics laboratory was established he was among the first faculty members to grasp its usefulness in elucidating structure-activity relationships. Thus, he quickly made use of his library of thyroxin analogs and the known structure of thyroid binding hormone to analyze the reasons for relative activity of such analogs. Clearly he has made major contributions in the areas of synthesis, endocrinology, and in the applications of molecular orbital theory and computer graphics to structure analysis.


Shortly before his death he had expanded his research efforts to include the synthesis of polypeptides related to angiotensin. He was approaching this field with the same energy and enthusiasm which characterized his early work on thyroxin and which surely was destined to provide a dynamic view of the mechanism of hormonal action of this important molecule.

Although Eugene tended to be a quiet and contemplative individual, his contributions to the growth and development of the School of Pharmacy both scientifically and administratively during the 1960s and 1970s played a major role in the emergence of this school as the national leader in pharmacy education and pharmaceutical services research. He was dedicated to his teaching responsibilities and was a valued advisor to Dean Troy Daniels and his successor Dean Jere Goyan. His leadership capabilities were well appreciated by his colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco and indeed by search committees around the country. Although often wooed, his allegiance and dedication to the University of California and to the School of Pharmacy were steadfast.

Although Eugene's scientific and academic accomplishments command our respect and praise, it is his gentleness, sensitivity, and respect for the individual that will be remembered best by those of us who knew him well.

Eugene is survived by his wife and one of his two children.

Neal Castagnoli Jr. Jere E. Goyan Robert Gibson Manfred E. Wolff