Jewish Nobel Prize Winners Part IIIA: Biomedical Sciences 1908-1965

Fact Paper 44-IIIA

© Samuel Kurinsky, all rights reserved

Otto Loewi, winner of the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Professor Loewi was one of 44 Jewish Nobel Prize winners in the biomedical field. Nine of these distinguished scientists had to flee the genocidal pyres of the Nazi regime. 3 other winners of the same prize had fled the pogroms of Eastern Europe, and 12 others were descendants of parents who had emigrated from “The Pale of Jewish Settlement.” The United States and Great Britain were the main beneficiaries of this stream of scientific talent.

Europe's Loss; America's Gain

The impressive record of 19 Jewish winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and 37 Jewish winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics is further enhanced by the addition of no less that 44 Jewish winners of the Nobel Prize in the Biomedical Sciences. An equally distinguished record can likewise be noted in disciplines other than the sciences, in economics, art, theater, and literature.

Jews were prominent in the biomedical sciences throughout the ages. It is well documented that Jewish doctors were retained for their knowledge and expertise by royalty and noblemen through the ages. They were preferred over gentile practioners even at times when Jews were otherwise suffering the severest ostracism and oppression.

As in the case of the disciplines of chemistry and physics, Germany's brutal racial policies drained Europe of a host of its most distinguished scientists. The Nazis ignored the fact that Jews were prominent in and were even at the head of some of the Germany's greatest scientific institutions. Meyerhof, for example, had been the Director of the newly-formed Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute for Research in Medicine, and later Warburg became the Director of its Center for the Study of Cell Physiology.

Nine winners of the biomedical Nobel Prize were among the escapees from Hitler's horrors! The world will never know many other potential Nobel Prize winners were consumed in the genocidal pyres of the Nazi regime.

England and the United States were the main beneficiaries of Central Europe's "brain drain," the exodus of distinguished scientists from both Nazi Germany and pogrom-infected eastern Europe. Many other distinguished scientists were descendants of such emigres. They were well represented among the biomedical Nobel Prize winners. As many as twelve prize winners were born of parents who had fled the pogroms in Eastern Europe. Three other Nobel Prize winners had emigrated to the USA directly from the "Pale of Jewish Settlement."

Emigration to England and the USA did not begin nor end with the Nazis. Agencies like the Rockefeller Institute and many universities were eager to capture the products of Europe's most scientifically fecund educational institutions. Six biomedical Nobel Prize winners joined the many other Jewish scientists who were benefitted by or found refuge in the Rockefeller Institute in the USA. Lederberg, in fact, was appointed President of Rockefeller University.

Likewise, the Pasteur Institute in Paris could count six biomedical Nobel Prize winners in its distinguished roster. Prize winner Lwow was appointed Head of the Department at the Institut Pasteur, and later served on its board of directors. Lwow also won France's highest honor for his courageous participation as a partisan in the underground struggle against the Nazis.

Switzerland was likewise blessed with three biomedical Nobel Prize winners.

The Nobel Prize winners

ILYA ILYICH MECHNIKOV was a co-winner with Ehrlich [see below] of the 1908 Nobel Prize in Biomedical Sciences "for their work on immunity."

Mechnikov was born in 1845 in a village near Kharkov in Russia. His father was a landowner in the Ukraine and an officer of the Imperial Guard. His mother, née Nevakhowitch, was of Jewish origin. Mechnikov's passion for natural history manifested itself at an early age, so much so that he is known to have lectured to his small brothers and other children on botany and geology. He sped through the University of Kharkov in two years, studied marine fauna at Heligoland, at the Universities of Giessen and Göttingen, at the Munich Academy, and then in Naples. He returned to Russia in 1867 at twenty-two years of age to positions as docent, first at the University of Odessa, and then at the University of St. Petersburg. In 1870, at the ripe old age of twenty-five, he was appointed Titular Professor of Zoology at the University of Odessa.

Mechnikov's first marriage was to Ludmilla, a woman suffering from tuberculosis so severe that she had to be carried to church in a chair for the wedding. Despite Mechnikov's devotion to her recovery, she succumbed after five years. Mechnikov attempted suicide by swallowing a large dose of opium. His depression manifested itself again when his second wife, Olga, was debilitated by a severe typhoid fever attack. She survived, but the experience led Mechnikov to attempt suicide again. "This time, however, he decided, in order to save his wife and others embarrassment, to do this by means of the scientific experiment of inoculating himself with relapsing fever to find out whether it was transmittable by blood. Fortunately for posterity, he survived.

Mechnikov resigned his post at Odessa and set up a private laboratory in Messina. "It was here that he discovered the phenomenon of phagocytosis with which his name will always be associated... The discovery had a marked influence on Mechnikov himself. It completely changed his outlook on life; he abandoned his pessimistic philosophy and determined to find further proof of his hypothesis"1

Returning to Odessa, Mechnikov had problems in carrying out Pasteur's vaccine treatment of rabies. He went to Paris for Pasteur's advice. "Pasteur gave him a laboratory and an appointment at the Pasteur Institute. Here he remained for the rest of his life... Photographs taken of him when he was working at the Pasteur Institute show him with long hair and an unkempt beard. It is said of him that at this time he usually wore overshoes in all weathers and carried an umbrella, his pockets being overfull with scientific papers, and that he always wore the same hat, and often, when he was excited, sat on it."1

PAUL EHRLICH was a co-winner with Mechnikov [see above] of the 1908 Nobel Prize in Biomedical Sciences "for their work on immunity."

Ehrlich was born in 1854 in Upper Silesia to Ismar Ehrich and his wife Rosa Weigert, whose nephew was the great bacteriologist Karl Weigert.1 His studies led to a doctorate of medicine with a dissertation on the theory and practice of staining animal tissues. He continued the research on the staining of granules in blood cells at the Berlin Medical. Clinic His work at the clinic laid the foundation for haematology and the staining of tissues. With modifications the method is still currently being used.

"In 1890. Robert Koch appointed Ehrlich as one of his assistants and Ehrlich then began the immunological studies with which his name will always be associated." In 1896 Ehrlich was appointed Director of an Institute for the control of therapeutic Sera. He developed a method by which serum could be standardized to a fixed and invariable standard, forming the basis for all future standardization of Sera. In 1897 Ehrlich became the Public Health Officer at Frankfurt-am-Main, and of George Speyerhouse, built next door to Ehrlich's Institute.

These appointments began the third phase of Ehrlichs extensive researches, to find chemical substances which have special affinities for pathogenic organisms, for which Ehrlich coined a term that became world-famous, "magic bullets." One "magic bullet" proved its efficacy against syphilis, and Ehrlich coined a name for it which became equally renowned: "Salvarsan.."

"Ehrlich had, like so many other discoverers before him to battle with much opposition before Salvarsan or Neosalvarsan were accepted for the treatment of human syphilis; but ultimately the practical experience prevailed and Ehrlich became famous as one of the main founders of chemotherapy."

"The indefatigable industry shown by Ehrlich throughout his life, his kindness and modesty, his lifelong habit of smoking incessantly 25 strong cigars a day... and the veneration and devotion shown to him by all his assistants have been vividly described by his former secretary, Martha Marquardt."

Ehrlich's monumental contributions to medicine were widely recognized. He was a corresponding or honorary member of 81 academies in 21 countries, held doctorates in 5 universities and was honored by Orders in 14 countries. The street in Frankfurt upon which the Ehrlich Institute was situated was named Ehrlichstrasse. With the advent of Jewish persecution, his name was removed. After WWII, however, the Polish authorities renamed Strehlen, the town in which he was born, Ehrlichstadt.

ROBERT BÁRÁNY won the 1914 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for his work on the physiology and pathology of the vestibular [inner-ear] apparatus."

Bárány was born in 1876 in Vienna. Bárány's father managed an estate and his mother was the daughter of a famous Prague scientist. After Bárány completed his studies at Vienna University he studied at the psychiatric-neurological clinic in Freiberg. He returned to Vienna to where subsequently, in 1903, he obtained a post as demonstrator at the Ontological Clinic, where he "clarified the physiology and pathology of human vestibular apparatus. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in this field in 1914. The news of the award reached Bárány in a Russian prisoner-of-war camp; he had been attached to the Austrian army as a civilian surgeon and had tended soldiers with head injuries, which fact had enabled him to continue his studies... Following the personal intervention of Prince Carl of Sweden on behalf of the Red Cross, he was released from prisoner-of-war camp in 1916 and was presented with the Nobel Prize by the King of Sweden at Stockholm."1

OTTO FRITZ MEYERHOF won the 1922 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for his discovery of the fixed relationship between the consumption of oxygen and the metabolism of lactic acid in the muscle."

Meyerhof was born in 1884 in Hannover to Felix Meyerhof, a merchant, and his wife Bettina May. "His father had come from a small Jewish enclave in the nearby city of Hildesheim - notable largely because the Hildesheim Meyerhofs had extensive relations with the families of two other scientists who knew Meyerhof well and became fellow pioneers of modern biochemistry - Hans Krebs [see below] and Carl Neuberg."2

Meyerhof studied medicine at Freiberg, Berlin, Strasburg, and Heidelberg, graduating in 1909 with a thesis in psychiatry, publishing several works on the subject. His interest shifted to cell physiology and he passed through a series of appointments at Heidelberg, Naples, and at Kiel in England as a lecturer. His lectures at Kiel and the U. S.A. were published to wide acclaim.

"In 1923 [Meyerhof] was offered a professorship of Biochemistry in the United States, but Germany was unwilling to lose him" and in 1924 he was asked to join the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft. "In 1929 he was asked to take charge of the newly-founded Kaiser Wilhem Institute for Medical Research at Heidelberg."3

Conditions in Germany became intolerable. With the rise of Naziism, "Initially, , his prestige as a Nobel Prize winner helped to shield his family. And, like so many others, Meyerhof believed that the National Socialists were unlikely to maintain a grip on power. Because work at the Physiology Department was proceeding so marvelously, Meyerhof chose to remain in Germany - dangerously late as we know in retrospect. He watched painfully, however as close colleagues and students, like Blaschko, Lipman, Neuberg, Nachmansohn, Ochoa, Krebs and others made their way out of the country, one by one."2

Meyerhof finally began making secret plans to leave the country. First he sent his two older children abroad. His former assistant, David Nachmansohn, writing to contacts in France in code to avoid the attention of censors, requested a position in France for his old professor. Meyerhof and his wife Hedwig received special permission in 1938 to pass into Switzerland for medical treatment of their youngest son. "Once across the border, they made their way safely on to Paris. To protect the deception, Meyerhof told none of his colleagues of his departure and was forced to leave behind all his scientific data and personal possessions."2

In 1940 Meyerhof was honored with the post of Director of Research at the Institut de Biologie physico-chemique in Paris. In June, 1940, the Nazis invaded France, and the Meyerhofs were forced to flee Paris. The family drove to Toulouse, where Meyerhof was befriended by the Medical Faculty. It was but a temporary respite. With the help of the Unitarian Service Committee, a harrowing flight across the Pyrenees and Spain ensued that brought the Meyerhofs to Lisbon and, in October 1940, on board a boat bound for Philadelphia. The post of Research Professor of Physiological Chemistry had been created for him by the University of Pennsylvania and the Rockefeller Foundation."3

KARL LANDSTEINER won the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for his discovery of human blood groups."

Karl was brought up by his mother, Fanny Hess, for his father, Leopold Landsteiner (a doctor of law and a well-known journalist and publisher), died when he was six years old. Karl was so devoted to his mother "that a death mask of her hung on his wall until he died."4

Landsteiner studied medicine at the University of Vienna, and immersed himself in chemical studies at laboratories in Zurich, Wurzburg and Munich. He returned to medical studies on his return to Vienna at the Vienna General Hospital. "In 1986 he became an assistant under Max von Gruber in the hygiene Institute at Vienna. Even at this time he was interested in the mechanisms of immunity and in the nature of antibodies... Up to the year 1919, after twenty years of work on pathological anatomy, Landsteiner and a number of collaborators had published many papers on his findings in morbid anatomy and on immunology. Lansteiner's researches led him to the "Pasteur Institute in Paris where monkeys were available. His work there... laid the foundations of our knowledge of the cause and immunology of poliomyelitis... but his name will no doubt be honoured for his discovery in 1901 of, and outstanding work on, the blood groups, for which he was given the Nobel Prize in 1930... is suggestions, however, received little attention until, in 1909, he classified the blood of human beings into the now well-known A, B, AB, and O groups and showed that transfusions between individuals of groups A or B do not result in the destruction of new blood cells and that this catastrophe occurs only when a person is transfused with the blood of a person belonging to a different group." 3

Lansteiner continued innovative investigations of blood groups in Holland and finally at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York, to which city the Landsteiners permanently relocated.

OTTO WARBURG won the 1931 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for his discovery of the nature and mode of action of the respiratory enzyme."

Warburg went on from a Ph. D in chemistry in Berlin to a Ph. D in Medicine in Heidelberg. During World War I he served in the Prussian Horse Guards and remained an equine sport enthusiast throughout his life. In 1930 The Rockefeller Foundation made a grant for the formation in the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of a Center for the Study of Cell Physiology, and Warburg became its Director in 1931.

"Warburg was never a teacher, and he has always been grateful for his opportunities to devote his whole time to scientific research. Among many notable discoveries, the one he won the Nobel Prize for "has opened up new ways in the fields of cellular metabolism and cellular respiration."3

Ernest B. Chain, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945, who fled Nazi Germany to England
Fritz Lipmann, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1953, who fled Nazi Germany to the USA.

OTTO LOEWI was a co-winner of the 1936 Nobel Prize "for their discoveries relating to the transmission of nerve impulses."

Loewi, son of a merchant, was born in Frankfurt-am-Main in 1873. Loewi was intrigued with philosophical questions during his early years, and barely managed to pass his first medical examination. His enthusiasm for medicine was sparked by the "father of pharmacology," Professor Oswald Schmeiedeberg, and by several other distinguished scientists.3

Loewi dropped his intention to become a clinician after working as such at the City hospital in Frankfurt because of his subsequent association in 1898 with Professor Hans Horst Meyer, a renowned pharmacologist. In 1902 Loewi spent some months in London where he met his life-long friend, Henry Dale, with whom he later shared the Nobel Prize. His interest in pharmacology never again wavered. He went on from a post as Professor of Pharmacology in Vienna in 1904 to an appointment in 1909 to the Chair of Pharmacology in Graz, and then to the post of Dean of the Medical Faculty in 1912/13.

Loewi's series of brilliant and innovative studies led to the Nobel prize in 1936. The proof that chemicals were involved in the transmission of impulses from one nerve cell to another, and from neuron to the responsive organ, opened an entirely new aspect of pharmacological science. "In addition to Loewi's researches on the nervous system, Loewi studied diabetes, and the action of the drugs digitalis and epinephrine. He devised Loewi's Test for the detection of pancreatic disease.6

Nonetheless, the Nazis arrested Loewi two years later in 1938 on the sole grounds of his being Jewish!5

All of Loewi's assets were seized by the brutal regime, including his Nobel Prize money. Loewi was at least fortunate enough to escape to England from Germany just before the onset of the "Final Solution," at which time his departure would have been rendered impossible.

Germany's loss was America's gain. After a stay in England, Loewi obtained the position of "Research Professor of Pharmacology" at New York University, where he carried on until his death in New York in 1961.

Among a multiplicity of honors granted world-wide to Loewi are, ironically, the Medal of Honor from Graz University (1958), and a renewal in 1959 of the Grand Austrian Medal of Honor for Science and the Arts. It had previously been granted in 1936 and then annulled.

JOSEPH ERLANGER was a co-winner of the 1944 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine "for their discoveries relating to the highly differentiated functions of single nerve fibers." The Nobel Prize's description refers to the startling discovery that "fibres within the same nerve cord possess different functions."6

Joseph Erlanger, son of Herman and Sarah Erlanger, was born in San Francisco in 1874. From the study of chemistry at the University of California, Erlanger went on to obtain an M.D. degree at Johns Hopkins University.

Erlanger's main innovative works a\re in the field of electrophysiology. He invented an instrument to enable the study of kidney functions. He devised a clamp with which the auriculo-ventricular bundle of the mammalian heart could be blocked, thus enable the study of problems associated with it. "He adapted the cathode-ray oscillograph for the study of nerve action potentials and this led to the work for which Erlanger and Gasser (Erlanger's former student) were given the Nobel prize..."7

SIR ERNST BORIS CHAIN won the 1945 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine "for the discovery of penicillin and its curative effect in various infectious diseases."

Chain was born in Berlin in 1906, the son of Dr. Michael Chain, a chemist and an industrialist His scientific interest was enhanced by visits to his father's laboratory and factory, and he pursued that interest at the Friedrich-Wilhelm University, where he graduated in 1930.

Germany never benefitted from the genius of Ernst Chain, for he fled Germany to England in 1933, shortly after the access to power of the Nazi regime. Germany's loss was England's gain, beginning with Chain's first two years in at the school of biochemistry in Cambridge.

In 1935 Chain's abilities were already recognized with an invitation to Oxford University. In Oxford Chain's research covered a wide range of topics in addition to those previously investigated. "From 1935 to 1939 he worked on snake venoms, tumour metabolism, the mechanism of lysozyme action and the development of methods for biochemical microanalysis. In 1939 he began [work which led] to his best known work, the reinvestigation of penicillin, which had been described by Ian Fleming nine years earlier."7 He and co-winner Howard Florey performed the first clinical trials of the antibiotic.6

In 1948 Chain became the Scientific Director of the International Research Centre for Chemical Microbiology at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome. Chain returned to England in 1961 to a position he still holds, Professor of Biochemistry at the Imperial College in London.

JOSEPH HERMANN MULLER won the 1946 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine "for the discovery of the production of mutations by means of X-ray radiation."

Joseph Muller was born in New York City in 1890. His grandparents on his father's side were, at first, Catholics, who had fled Germany during the reactionary wave in 1848 to seek freedom in America. His father was born in New York and continued the grandfather's art metal works (the first in the U. S. A.).7 His mother had also been born in New York, but was the descendant of Spanish and Portuguese Jews who had settled in England and Ireland, and whose children came to seek their fortune in America.

Muller's father died in 1900, and he and his sister Ada were brought up in Harlem by his mother in impoverished circumstances. Muller had the good fortune to attend Columbia University, and, because of his superb entrance examination grades, was granted a scholarship. "He spent his summers, during his college years, at such jobs as bank runners and hotel clerk (the latter at $25.00 per month, plus board, for a 14-hour work-day."7

Muller produced a series of papers on his research on the fruit fly Drosophila that have now become classic. After three years at Rice Institute in Houston, and an

interlude at Columbia, Muller entered the University of Texas, where he was phenomenally productive in scientific research for next 12 years In 1933, after a year's sojourn at the Kaiser Wilhelm (now Max Planck) Institute Muller moved to Leningrad and then to Moscow.

"Muller was a socialist, and he initially viewed the Soviet Union as a progressive, experimental society that could pursue important research in genetics and eugenics. But by this time the false doctrines of the biologist T.D. Lysenko were becoming politically powerful, bringing to an end valid scientific research in genetics."

"Muller fought Lysenkoism whenever possible, but he ultimately had to leave the Soviet Union in 1937."6

Muller went to Edinburgh, where he spent three years at the Institute for Animal Genetics. He then took a position at Amherst College in Massachusetts, and finally a professorship in zoology at Indiana University.

Hans Adolph Krebs, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1953, who fled from Nazi Germany to England
Konrad Bloch, winner of a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1964, who fled from Nazi Germany to Switzerland.

TADEUS REICHSTEIN was the co-winner of the 1950 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine "for their discoveries relating to the hormones of the adrenal cortex, their structure and biological effects."

Taddeus, the son of Isador Reichstein and Gasava Brockman, was born at Wloclawek, Poland in 1897. He received his early education in Kiev, where his father, Isadore, was an engineer. The family moved to Zurich before the Russian revolution, and never returned to the "mother" country. Taddeus became a naturalized Swiss citizen, studied chemistry at the Eidgenössiche Technische Hochschule (E.T.H.) at Zurich, and after an year's interim in industry, obtained a doctorate in 1922.

Subsidized by an industry, Eichstein spent nine years studying the composition of flavoring in roasted coffee. From 1931 on Reichstein rejoined academia, devoted himself to research, and advanced through a number of advancements to become Director of the Pharmacological Institute in Basel in 1938, and then to assume, in addition, the Chair of Organic Chemistry, holding both positions until 1950.7

It was in the period after 1931 that Reichstein's creative potential came to the fore. "Reichstein and his colleagues isolated about 29 hormones and determined their structure and chemical composition. One of the hormones they isolated, cortisone... [was] useful un the treatment of arthritis.... Aside from hormone research, Reichstein was also known for his synthesis of vitamin C... [and his study of] plant glycosides, chemicals that can be used in the development of therapeutic drugs.6

Reichstein supervised the construction and furnishing of an Institute of Organic Chemistry in Basel. He became its Director in 1960.

SELMAN ABRAHAM WAKSMAN won the 1952 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine "for his discovery of Streptomycin, the first effective anti-biotic against tuberculosis."

Waksman, the son of Jacob Waksman and Fradia London, was born in 1888 in Priluka, near Kiev. In 1910, soon after his Gymnasium schooling in Odessa, Selman left for the USA and entered Rutgers College, having won a state scholarship. In 1916 he earned an M.Sc. Degree at Rutgers, became a U.S. citizen, and was appointed a Research Fellow at the University of California where he received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1918. He then returned to Rutgers. "Apart from his activities at Rutgers, he was invited to organize a division of Marine Bacteriology at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1931; he was also appointed marine bacteriologist at the same institution, where he served until 1942.7

Waksman was a dedicated scientist, a highly principled human being, and a devoted Zionist. Dr. Waksman could have become a very wealthy man by retaining the considerable financial returns from his discoveries. He chose to plow back his gains into scientific research. Not content with his own sacrifice, he prevailed upon Merck to give up its exclusive license on streptomycin (which he had developed), so that it could be rapidly licensed to other companies to combat tuberculosis, at the time a debilitating and deadly disease. "Waksman traveled extensively and the foreign profits from his work were [also] used to establish microbiology research centeres in Japan and France."

TB virtually disappeared from the U. S.A. within a decade after Waksman made streptomycin universally available, and was radically reduced throughout the world.

Waksman was not content to rest quietly on his laurels while injustice and anti-Semitism were extant in the world. Waksman was a devoted supporter of the State of Israel. "His notoriety, combined with his scholarly interest and love of Jewish history, led to the creation of the Institute of General and Industrial Microbiology at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa... He was also critical of the treatment behind the Iron Curtain of Communism, of scientists by the Soviet Union."8

The Institute of Microbiology bears Waksman's name.

FRITZ ALBERT LIPMANN was one of the winners of the 1953 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine "for his discovery of co-enzyme A and its importance for intermediary metabolism."

Lipmann, the son of Leopold Lipmann and Gertrud Lachmanski was born in 1899 at Koenigsberg, Germany. Lipmann was educated at the Universities of Koenigsberg, Munich and Berlin, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1927. Lipmann was fortunately absent from Germany during the outrages of the traumatic Nazi period, for in 1931 he became a Rockefeller Fellow in New York; in 1932 he went to Copenhagen as Research Associate in the Biological Institute of the Carlsberg Foundation; and in 1939 he returned to the United States where he became Research

Associate in the Department of Biochemistry at Cornell Medical School. During this period Lipmann published important papers on the metabolism of embryo cells.

Lipman went on through a number of hospital and university posts to an eventual appointment as a member and Professor of the Rockefeller Institute, a position he held until his death in 1986.

In introducing Lipmann at the presentation of the Nobel prize, G. Liljestrand, a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, elaborated on the esoteric nature of Lipmann's fundamental discoveries. He referred to a response by Benjamin Franklin to the frequently asked question: "Of what practical application have these discoveries?"

What is the use, Franklin responded, "of a new-born baby?"9

SIR HANS ADOLF KREBS was one of the winners of the 1953 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine "for his discovery of the citric acid cycle."

Krebs, the son of Georg Krebs, M.D., and Alma Davidson, was born at Hildesheim, Germany in 1900. He studied medicine at the Universities of Göttingen, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Berlin, and Hamburg. Unlike Lipmann [see above], who was in Copenhagen at the time, Krebs was caught up in the onset of Hitler's "Final Solution."

In June, 1933 The Nazi government terminated Kreb's appointment at the University of Freiburg-im-Breisgau. He fled to Cambridge where he held a Rockefeller Studentship until 1934, when he was appointed Demonstrator of Biochemistry in the University of Cambridge. Krebs went on to the University of Sheffield and then to Oxford.

Kreb's important researches, like Lippmann's, was of an esoteric nature, having to do with various aspects of intermediary metabolism. "Among the subjects he studied are the synthesis of urea in the mammalian liver, the synthesis of uric acid and purine bases in birds, the intermediary stages of the oxidation of foodstuffs, the mechanism of the active transport of electrloytes and the relations between cell aspiration and the generation of adenosine polyphisphates."7

In his Nobel banquet speech in Stockholm, Krebs referred to the Liljestrand's introduction to his fellow-prizewinner, Lipmann. He related an elaboration he had heard of Benjamin' Franklin's remarks. "About 100 years ago," Krebs stated, "Michael Faraday, when asked by Mr. Gladstone, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, about the use of his research into electrical phenomena, replied, so the story goes, with Franklin's counter-question, 'What is the use of a newborn baby?" adding, "Well sir, one day you might tax him." I do not think that I could, with any confidence, hold out hopes to a hard-pressed Minister of Finance that my work will one day help his exchequer - in the way it has helped my own."9

JOSHUA LEDERBERG won the 1958 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine "for his discoveries concerning genetic recombination and the organization of the genetic material of bacteria."

Joshua Lederberg, the son of emigres from Israel, Rabbi Zwi H. Lederberg and Esther Goldenbaum, was born in New Jersey in 1925. His family moved to New York City when he was a child, and he became one of a roster of distinguished scientists and Nobel Prize winners to graduate from Stuyvesant High School. Graduating at 16, Lederberg won a scholarship to Columbia University. After a stint in the US Navy's V-12 training program, Lederberg went on to win a Ph.D from Yale in 1948. He then joined the Genetics department at the University of Wisconsin where he eventually helped form and served as chair of the Department of Medical Genetics.10

"Stanford University Medical School entrusted to [Lederbrg] the organization of its Department of Genetics and appointed him Professor and Executive head in 1959."7 In 1978 Lederberg was appointed President of Rockefeller University, where he continued his research activity in the field of gene functionaliy and mutagenesis in bacteria.

Lederberg's creative research work was no less distinguished than was his organizational and administrative abilities. His wide-ranging scientific interests is demonstrated by his involvement in artificial intelligence and in the NASA experimental programs seeking life on Mars.

ARTHUR KORNBERG was the co-winner of the 1959 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine "for their discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid."

Arthur was born in Brooklyn in 1918 to Joseph and Lena Kornberg. He was another accomplished graduate of the City College of New York, and he went on to complete his studies at the University of Rochester. In 1942 he went on to serve as a commissioned officer in the U. S. Public Health Service, and then as a lieutenant in the United States Coast Guard.

Kornberg returned to academia in 1953, at first as research investigator in the Departments of Chemistry and Pharmacology of New York College of Medicine; then in the Department of Biological Chemistry at the Washington School of Medicine in Missouri; and, in 1951, in the Department of Plant Biology at the University of California in Berkeley. He returned to the Washington School of Medicine to become the Head of the Department of Microbiology; and finally, from 1959, he has been the Executive Head of the Department of Biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine.7

Kornbergs first published paper resulted, as Jochen Kumin reported, from "Succumbing to the hypochondria of an unrecognized medical genius, [when] he discovered a slight discoloration in the white of his eyes. He noticed the same discoloration in the eyes of other students and some patients, and with the guidance of a professor proceeded to show that he and the others he examined exhibited a biochemical abnormality in bilirubin metabolism... Kornberg spent decades isolating and purifying the enzymes that run the machinery of the cell. He and Severo Ochoa were the first to identify the enzyme catalyzing the synthesis of DNA"10

This achievement won both researchers the Nobel Prize. Kornberg went on to other achievements, most notably the synthesis for the first time of an active virus in a laboratory.

KONRAD BLOCH was the co-winner of the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine "for their discovery of the mechanism and regulation of the cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism."

Konrad, the son of Fritz Bloch and Hedwig Striemer, was born in 1912 in Upper Silesia, Germany. Just after receiving a chemical engineering degree at the Technische Hochshule in Munich in 1934, his studies in were brought to an abrupt end with the imposition of racial laws. He was fortunate to find refuge from Naziism in Switzerland at the Scweizerische Forschungsinstitut. "His first assignment there was to investigate the phospholidpids of tubercle bacilli, his first exposure to biochemical research."11

In 1936 Bloch fulfilled his hope of emigrating to the USA, where he entered Columbia University in its College of Physicians and Surgeons' Department of Biochemistry, where he earned his Ph.D.

"After teaching at the University of Chicago (1946-54), Bloch became professor of biochemistry at Harvard, continuing his research on lipids..."6

ANDRÈ LWOFF was the co-winner (see François Jacob below) of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine "for their discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis."

Andrè was born in France in 1902 of Russian-Polish parents. He was educated at the University of Paris, and entered a research career at the Pasteur Institute.

A grant from the Rockefeller Foundation brought Andrè to Heidelberg for a year. Another Rockefeller grant enabled him to spend seven months in Cambridge.

Lwow returned to France, where, in 1938, he was appointed Head of the Department at the Institut Pasteur.

During the traumatic period of Nazi occupation of France, Lwow, despite his Judaic roots, courageously participated in the underground resistance. "After World War II Lwow won the Medal of the Resistance for work in the French underground. He was also made an officer of the Legion of honor."6

From 1959 to 1966 Lwow served as a professor of microbiology at the Sorbonne, served on the board of directors of the Pasteur Institute, and as director of the Cancer Research Institute at Villejuf until 1972.

The honors for courageous anti-Nazi activity were not least among the many other prizes and recognitions that Andrè Lwow received for his scientific research in addition to the Nobel Prize.

FRANÇOIS JACOB was the co-winner (see Andrè Lwow above) of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine "for their discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis."

François was born in 1920 in Nancy, France. He was the only son of Simon Jacob and Thérèse Franck. His ambition to become a surgeon was interrupted in his second year of studies by the Nazi incursion into France. In June, 1940, Jacob "left France to join the Free French Forces in London. He was sent to Africa as a medical officer and saw action in Fezzan, Libya, Tripolitania and Tunisia, where he was wounded. He was posted to the Second Armored Division, and was severely wounded in Normandy in August, 1944. He remained in the hospital for seven months, and was awarded the Croix de la Libération, the highest French military decoration of this war."

Thus, two of the co-winners of the 1965 Nobel Prize, François Jacob and Andrè Lwow, were decorated for extraordinary bravery in their participation in the struggle against the Nazi forces, one for his activity underground, and the other very much for his activity above-ground!

After the war, because of his severe injuries, Jacob was unable to practice surgery. Jacob worked in various fields, but returned to biology and earned a doctorate at Sorbonne. "In 1950, François Jacob joined the Pasteur Institute under Dr. Andrè Lwow. He was appointed Laboratory Director in 1956, then in 1960 Head of the Department of Cell Genetics."11 A special chair of Cell Genetics was created in 1964 for François Jacob at the Collége de France.



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  4. Nobel Lectures, Physiology or Medicine 1930,
  5. F. Lembreck, W. Giere, Otto Loewi, Ein Lebensbild in Dokumenten, Berlin, 1968.
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  10. Jochen Kumin, Arthur Kornberg,
  11. Nobel Lectures, Physiology or Medicine 1963-1970,