In Memoriam: Ernst Meyer (1922-2000)


Dr. Ernst Meyer, an eminent pioneer in chemical information science, passed away on November 7, 2000, at the age of 78.

He studied at the University of Göttingen and was awarded a doctorate degree (Dr.rer.nat.) in chemistry in 1954 for a thesis on the constitution of aromatic antibiotics and on electrometric titration in non-aqueous solutions.

He started his professional career as a research chemist in the vat dye area at the Badische Anilin- & Soda-Fabrik, later known as BASF AG, Ludwigshafen (1955-1962). He was asked in 1958 to develop a punched card code for the documentation of vat dyes. He continued with the same company (1962-1987) as a leader of a research group on the development and application of computer methods into chemical information, including the appropriate programming as well as documentation of dye patents and dye literature.

In 1983, Dr. Meyer was awarded the Gmelin-Beilstein Memorial Medal of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh) for contributions to the development of electronic methods in the processing and handling of chemical databases, especially in topological coding of chemical structures applicable to planning of chemical syntheses.

In 1990, Dr. Meyer was awarded the Herman Skolnik Award of the ACS Division of Chemical Information, for playing a major role in revolutionizing chemical information technology through the use of computer methodology as early as the late 195Os, through development of input and searching techniques for topological and fragment representation of chemical substances, including generic or Markush structures, intended for large scale operations. He also broadened his area of research into that of structure-activity correlations.

His Award address was on "Computer Representation and Handling of Structures: Retrospect and Prospect", which was later published in the Journal of Chemical Information and Computer Sciences.

From 1967 until his retirement in 1987, Dr. Meyer was a member of the scientific advisory board of the Internationale Dokumentationsgesellschaft für Chemie (IDC), Frankfurt am Main, maintained by a consortium of German chemical and pharmaceutical companies. He was chairman of that board for many years.

After his retirement in 1987, he became a controller in the German Ministry for Research and Technology for the projects involving computerization of the Gmelin Handbook of Inorganic Chemistry and the Beilstein Handbook of Organic Chemistry, and the creation of the corresponding databases.

W. Val Metanomski