Wohler, Friedrich (1800-1882), a German chemist. He was the first to create an organic substance from inorganic chemicals; in 1828 he heated ammonium cyanate, an inorganic compound, and created urea, a compound found in animal urine. Thus he disproved the belief that organic substances could be formed only in living things. Wohler experimented with almost every chemical element known in his day. He isolated the elements aluminum and beryllium, and discovered calcium carbide.

Wohler was born near Frankfurt am Main and in 1823 received a medical degree from Heidelberg University. His interest in chemistry led him to study for a year with the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius. Returning to Germany, Wohler taught in technical schools and, after 1836, at the University of Gottingen.