• BSc (1951) First class in Chemistry from U. of Nottingham, UK
  • PhD in organic chemistry from U. of Nottingham, UK
  • Postdoc at Royal Technical College in Stockholm, Sweden
  • Postdoc at Columbia University with Gilbert Stork, USA

1957 Joined the Schering Corporation as a Medicinal Chemist. In a roughly 10 year period he and his research group synthesized and patented 5 drugs that were subsequently marketed (trichlormethiazide, diazoxide, halazepam, quazepam and flutamide).
Formulated operational schemes for analogue synthesis in drug design published in 1972 and 1977 known as “”Topliss Decision Trees.”” The methodology has been widely adopted by medicinal chemists and is still in use. It has been extensively cited in the literature and in text books on medicinal chemistry or drug design.
1975 Appointed Senior Director of Chemical Research at Schering-Plough.
1979 Appointed Director of Chemistry at Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis and in
1983 Promoted to Vice-President, Chemistry; while holding this position his research group invented the drugs quinapril (Accupril ®) and atorvastatin (Lipitor ®). 1992 Appointed Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy at the University of Michigan.
1998 Received the ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry Award in Medicinal Chemistry.
2007 Inducted into the ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame

  • IUPAC:
    • 1987-1995 Chaired the Working Party on Computer Graphic Research
    • 1992-1995 President of the Medicinal Chemistry Section
    • 1996-1999 Past-President
    • 1998-2001 Titular Member of Division VII

Made outstanding contributions to continuing the existence of the Medicinal Chemistry Section as a very active committee member.