Calvert Watson Whitehead

Science & Technology

Calvert Watson Whitehead, Ph.D. (1913-2002)

Calvert Watson Whitehead was born and raised in St. George, Utah. Following his graduation from Dixie College, he received his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Brigham Young University. While at BYU, Calvert became very adept as a glass blower. Earnings from his talent paid the tuition for his master’s degree. In 1941, he was granted a teaching and research fellowship at the University of Nebraska and in 1944, he was made a junior instructor in chemistry. Then in 1955, he completed his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at Nebraska. A position was waiting for him at Eli Lily and Company in Indianapolis, Ind.

He had the privilege of helping develop penicillin for use in World War II. He synthesized two new drugs for the treatment for cardiovascular disease and discovered a new system for pyrimidines. This system is now taught world wide as the Whitehead Synthesis. He has also contributed to many scientific publications and patents. In 1974, he retired from Eli Lilly as a junior executive and became a visiting fellow at Princeton University, and then enjoyed a professorship at the University of Utah from 1975-95. A new research laboratory at Snow Canyon Clinic will honor Dr. Whitehead and bear his name. Sixty-two years ago, Calvert married his sweetheart, Norma Law, and they have three daughters and two sons.