Irma Goldberg

Irma Goldberg (born 1871) was one of the first female organic chemists to have and sustain a successful career, her work even being quoted in her own name in standard textbooks.[1]

Irma Golderg
Alma materGeneva University
Known forGoldberg reaction, Jourdan-Ullman-Goldberg reaction
Spouse(s)Fritz Ullmann
Scientific career
FieldsOrganic Chemistry

Born in Moscow to a Russian-Jewish family, she later traveled to Geneva in the 1890s to study chemistry at Geneva University. Her early research included the development of a process to remove sulfur and phosphorus from acetylene. Her first article on the derivatives of benzophenone, coauthored by German chemist Fritz Ullman, was published in 1897.[1] She also researched and wrote a paper (published in 1904) on using copper as a catalyst for the preparation of a phenyl derivative of thiosalicylic acid, a process known as the Ullmann reaction; Goldberg is the only woman scientist unambiguously recognized for her own named reaction: the amidation (Goldberg) reaction[2]. This modification to previous forms of the method was a great improvement, and was extremely helpful for laboratory-scale preparations. She coordinated on other forms of chemistry research with her husband, Fritz Ullmann, in what they called the Ullmann-Goldberg collaborative.[1][3]

In 1905, both Goldberg and Ullman moved to Technische Hochschule in Berlin. Goldberg's research, along with that of the Ullmann-Goldberg collaborative, was also a part of Germany's synthetic dye industry. Their research helped with the creation of the synthetic alizarin industry, or the process of replacing natural dye obtained from madder. In 1909, Goldberg also collaborated with Hermann Friedman to review German patents under BASF (Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik) and Bayer & Co. Farbenfabriken, providing notes on preparation for 114 dyes.[1]

In 1910, Goldberg married Ullman. In 1923, they moved back to Geneva when Ullman accepted a faculty position at Geneva University.[1]

Her exact death date is not known, but her name does appear at the top of a list of people signing a memorial notice in a Geneva newspaper for her deceased husband, Fritz Ullmann in 1939.[1]

See also


  1. Creese, Mary (2004). Ladies in the Laboratory II. PO Box 317 Oxford OX2 9RU, UK: Scarecrow Press, Inc. pp. 184–185. LCCN 2003020846.
  2. "Women Named Organic Reactions :: News :: ChemistryViews". Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  3. Olson, Julie A.; Shea, Kevin M. (2011-05-17). "Critical Perspective: Named Reactions Discovered and Developed by Women". Accounts of Chemical Research. 44 (5): 311–321. doi:10.1021/ar100114m. ISSN 0001-4842. PMID 21417324.
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