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Born on this day
Elias James Corey
Elias James "E.J." Corey is an American organic chemist and Nobel Prize winner.
28th week in year
12 July 2018

Important personalitiesBack

John Howard Northrop 5.7.1891

Wikipedia (02 Jul 2013, 10:28)

John Howard Northrop (July 5, 1891 – May 27, 1987) was an American biochemist who won, with James Batcheller Sumner and Wendell Meredith Stanley, the 1946 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The award was given for these scientists' isolation, crystallization, and study of enzymes, proteins, and viruses. Northrop was a Professor of Bacteriology and Medical Physics, Emeritus at University of California, Berkeley.

Early years

Northrop was born in Yonkers, New York to John I., a zoologist and instructor at Columbia University, and Alice R. Northrop, a teacher of botany at Hunter College. His father died in a lab explosion two weeks before John H. Northrop was born. The son was educated at Columbia University, where he earned his PhD in chemistry in 1915. During World War I, he conducted research for the U.S. Army Chemical Warfare Service on the production of acetone and ethanol through fermentation. This work led to studying enzymes.


In 1929, Northrop isolated and crystallized the gastric enzyme pepsin and determined that it was a protein. In 1938 he isolated and crystallized the first bacteriophage (a small virus that attacks bacteria), and determined that it was a nucleoprotein. Northrop also isolated and crystallized pepsinogen (the precursor to pepsin), trypsin, chymotrypsin, and carboxypeptidase.

For his 1939 book, Crystalline Enzymes: The Chemistry of Pepsin, Trypsin, and Bacteriophage, Northrop was awarded the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal from the National Academy of Sciences. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1949. Northrop was employed by the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York City from 1916 until his retirement in 1961. In 1949 he was appointed Professor of Bacteriology, University of California, Berkeley and later, Professor of Biophysics.

Personal life

In 1917, Northrop married Louise Walker, with whom he had two children: John, an oceanographer, and Alice, who married Nobel laureate Frederick C. Robbins. Northrop committed suicide in Wickenberg, Arizona in 1987.

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