pronounced WUR luhr or VUR luhr, Friedrich, pronounced FREE drihk (1800-1882), a German
chemist, in 1828 became the first person to make an organic substance (in this case urea)
from inorganic chemicals. Organic substances consist primarily of carbon atoms linked
together in chains or rings. Wohler's experiments helped disprove the belief that organic
substances could be formed only in the living bodies of animals or plants.
Wohler isolated the element beryllium, and was one of the first people to isolate and
describe the properties of aluminum (see ALUMINUM [The first aluminum]). Wohler's studies
with German chemist Justus von Liebig on benzoyl compounds played a major role in the
development of organic chemistry. Wohler was born in Frankfurt (am Main), Germany.
Contributor: Seymour Harold Mauskopf, Ph.D., Prof. of History,