Society: Arts and Science – July 5


The Nobel Prize is bestowed annually in categories as selected by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Ludwig Karl Martin Leonhard Albrecht Kossel died on this date in 1827. He was a German biochemist and pioneer in the study of genetics. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1910 for his work in determining the chemical composition of nucleic acids, the genetic substance of biological cells. Kossel isolated and described the five organic compounds that are present in nucleic acid: adenine, cytosine, guanine, thymine, and uracil. These compounds were later shown to be nucleobases, and are key in the formation of DNA and RNA, the genetic material found in all living cells. Kossel was an important influence on and collaborator with other important researchers in biochemistry, including Henry Drysdale Dakin, Friedrich Miescher, Edwin B. Hart, and his professor and mentor, Felix Hoppe-Seyler. Kossel was editor of the Zeitschrift für Physiologische Chemie (Journal of Physiological Chemistry) from 1895 until his death. Kossel also conducted important research into the composition of protein, and his research predicted the discovery of the polypeptide nature of the protein molecule. The Albrecht Kossel Institute for Neuroregeneration at the University of Rostock is named in his honor.
George Charles de Hevesy died on this date in 1966. He was a Hungarian radiochemist and Nobel laureate, recognized in 1943 for his key role in the development of radioactive tracers to study chemical processes such as in the metabolism of animals. He also co-discovered the element hafnium.
Herbert Spencer Gasser was born on this date in 1888. He was an American physiologist, and recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1944 for his work with action potentials in nerve fibers while on the faculty of Washington University in St. Louis, awarded jointly with Joseph Erlanger.
John Howard Northrop was born on this date in 1891. He 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.