In Memoriam: John Michael Edwards

The School of Pharmacy remembers former professor and Assistant Dean, John Michael Edwards.

John Michael Edwards, 91, of Coventry Connecticut passed away on July 23, 2023 after a brief illness.

Michael was born in London England on December 31, 1931, to the late Harry Edwards and Nora (Brummitt) Edwards. Like many children during the London Blitz, he attended boarding school outside of the city, at King’s School Taunton, then St. John’s, Leatherhead.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry, on a full scholarship, from St. John’s College, Cambridge in 1953. Following his undergraduate work, he enlisted in the Royal Navy and completed his national service requirement in 1955.  During this time, he met his wife, Sheila Carlyle, and they married in 1954.

Michael first taught at Uppingham School in Rutland, England.  In 1960, he took an opportunity to teach in Australia.  While there, he completed his PhD in Chemistry at the University of Melbourne.  His career as an academic, researcher, and scholar led to postdoctoral work in Georgetown, MD; Birmingham, UK; and the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C.  His postdoctoral work was followed by a long and distinguished career at UConn from 1970 to 1997. He served as a Professor of Pharmacognosy and Assistant Dean in the School of Pharmacy and he pursued his interest in biosynthetic pathways for the formation of natural products containing aromatic systems, and secondary metabolite generation from medicinal plants.  His research appeared in numerous journal publications that spanned his career as well as a book, co-authored with Ulrich Weiss, The Biosynthesis of Aromatic Compounds published in 1980.

He is predeceased by his wife, Sheila (Carlyle) Edwards and his daughter, Amanda (Edwards) Bowen.  He is survived by his son Justin; daughter-in-law Annie; grandchildren Megan MacDonald, Jasper Edwards and Ian Edwards; and his sister, Margaret (Edwards) Hill.