Ernest Fourneau (4 October 1872 – 5 August 1949) was a French medicinal chemist who played a major role in the discovery of synthetic local anesthetics, as well as in the synthesis of suramin. He authored more than two hundred scholarly works, and has been described as having "helped to establish the fundamental laws of chemotherapy that have saved so many human lives".[1][2]

Fourneau was a pupil of Friedel and Moureu, and studied in the German laboratories of Ludwig Gattermann in Heidelberg, Hermann Emil Fischer in Berlin and Richard Willstätter in Munich. He headed the research laboratory of Poulenc Frères in Ivry-sur-Seine from 1903 to 1911. One of the products was a synthetic local anesthetic that was named "Stovaine" (Amylocaine). This was a pun on the English translation of "fourneau" as "stove".[3] Other important medicines were antipyretics.[4] In 1910 Fourneau accepted the directorship of the Pasteur Institute's therapeutic chemistry section, with the condition that he maintained his ties with Poulenc Frères.[3]

He was a member of the Académie Nationale de Médecine.



  1. ^ "Fourneau, Ernest". Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 2008.
  2. ^ Henry, T. A., "Ernest Fourneau". 1872–1949. J. Chem. Soc., 1952, pp. 261–272.
  3. ^ a b Lesch 2007, p. 124.
  4. ^ Michel 2016, p. 7.