History of the Frank Warren

The Frank Warren National Organic Conferences are dedicated to the memory of Professor Frank Warren, considered to be one of the leading Scientists of his generation. Frank L. Warren was born in 1905 in London and studied as a Chemist in the United Kingdom. He then took up a position at the King Fuad II University in Cairo for a few years before moving to South Africa where he was Professor of Chemistry at the Natal University College (later University of Natal) from 1940-1965 and then Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Cape Town. He passed away in 1980.

The specialist Organic Chemistry Conferences have been held in South Africa since July 1961. The first being little more than an informal gathering, conceived by Professor Warren, and held in the Giant’s Castle area of the Drakensberg. The concept of getting organic Chemists together in a remote location became more structured in 1964, when a proper conference was held at the Sabie River Bungalows.

After Warren’s death the Council of the South African Chemical Institute decided to formalise the organic chemistry meetings and they officially became the “Frank Warren National Organic Chemistry Conferences”. The first was held in Pietermaritzburg in 1983 with the unforgettable Barry Trost as guest Lecturer. Subsequently, conventions have been held right across South Africa with the latest taking place in Bloemfontein in 2012.

The legacy of Frank Warren lives on even today, and his spirit is alive and well in the halls of “his” Department in Pietermaritzburg. However the Organic Chemistry Conferences are more than about just one man. Since inception, the conferences have been graced by world figures in the form of amongst others, Derek Barton, Albert Eschenmoser, Gilbert Stork, Carl Djerassi, Barry Trost and Clayton Heathcock, ably supported by the “locals” such as Guido Perold, Douglas Rivett, Alastair Stephen, Siegfried Drewes, Jimmy Bull and Cedric Holzaphel. It is men and women such as these that have worked with great enthusiasm, who have been the heart and soul of what is the Frank Warren Conferences of today.

History of the Binational Organic Chemistry Conferences (BOCC)

The SACI Binational Organic Chemistry set of conferences, “BOCC”, in spite of being relatively young, already has a proud history! The first of the binational meetings was held between SACI and the UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry and held at the University of Cape Town in January 2001 under the reins of Professor James Bull. This success was followed up by the first SACI Gesellschaft der Deutscher Chemiker (DfG) BOCC (incorporating the 10th Frank Warren Organic Chemistry Conference) which was held in the Kruger National Park (Berg-en-Dal) in 2008 and organized by Professor Charles de Koning of the University of the Witwatersrand. A return invitation from the German chemical society saw the DfG-SACI BOCC-2013 conference held recently in the picturesque venue of Tützing, just South of München. This conference was hosted by Professor Dr. Hans-Günther Schmalz of the University of Cologne. This brings us to the next exciting edition of the BOCC series, the first time the Organic Divisions of the ACS and SACI have combined their forces to present the BOCC-2014 at Stellenbosch University, incorporating the 13th Frank Warren Conference.